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Anniversary of the EU-Turkey Deal

Two years ago the EU decided to sell its soul for the sake of keeping refugees as far away from its shores as possible. After two years it is pretty clear that the EU-Turkey deal is one big, expensive failure. The EU needs to return to a human-rights based refugee policy as soon as possible.

Nothing of the well-sounding and deceiving talk of improving the situation for refugees in Turkey has materialised. Refugees continue to struggle, especially in areas affected by Turkey’s internal and external war against the Kurds. The only part of the deal, which worked as intended, was to hold back refugees, as proven by the plummeting numbers of new arrivals. At the same time, Turkey made an effort to seal its Southern border, effectively locking innocent people in war-torn Syria. It’s a shame the chain of border closures that started in Austria and Hungary has reached the immediate vicinity of a war zone, forcing people to take ever more risky routes if they want to escape the Syrian hell.

This shameful deal has had another effect: It shields Erdogan from effective criticism from the EU, who made him the most important watchdog on its Eastern border and gave the wannabe-Sultan of the Bosphorus the power to hold one of the most powerful players on Earth hostage. Be it the war against Afrin or the purges and human rights violations in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt, Europe has lost its ability to criticise Turkey – with far-reaching consequences for human rights defenders in the country and beyond.

It’s utterly unacceptable that such a far-reaching deal is nothing but a deal, an agreement outside of any democratic control and beyond any legal ways to challenge it.

Despite its spectacular failure, this deal continues to serve as a blueprint and inspiration for deals with dictators across North, East and West Africa, with so-called partners that make even Erdogan look like a charming advocate for human rights. 

Keeping refugees away from Europe’s shores might serve the immediate interest of a handful of conservative and racist politicians in Europe, but it damages the reputation of the EU abroad and it shakes the entire human rights system to the core. Contrary to popular belief, the refugee numbers do not go down. They just don’t reach Europe’s shores anymore and shameful deals like the EU-Turkey deal are the main responsibles for this development. This is not worth it! The deal must be cancelled immediately and it must be cancelled by Europe. We call on all EU member states and institutions to return to a human rights-based refugee policy immediately.