Connect with us

Europe

EU Turkey pact and the fate of Syrian refugees

Published

on

The ongoing NATO terror war led by the Pentagon has at least to negative consequences: one, acceleration of climatic change though deadly environmental pollution and, two, ever increasing number of hapless refugees driven out of the occupied cum attacked Arab nations.

Syria in the Middle East has generated refugee crisis although the NATO did not invaded that nation on the usual fictitious pretexts like searching for WMD as it happened in Iraq. People of Syria predominantly of Sunni sect led by the opposition want a change in the government being run by a Shi’ite Al-Bashar Assad for years without facing any democratic election in order to get popular mandate necessary to rule. The Assad military has ruthlessly attacked the protestors, leading to a civil war that the regime could not control

With the arrival of Russian forces in Syria, targeting the Syrians, the refugee crisis has escalated as the refugees flow increased to flow into EU nations. Deeply worried, even more terrorized than US sponsored terror wars, European Union has decided to strike a refugee deal with Turkey to send the refugees from other European states to Turkey, the only Muslim nation in European continent.

Agreement

The European Union-Turkey agreement over Syrian refugees that came into effect on March 20 is being implemented with EU sending back the Syrian refugees back to Turkey. This agreement will affect 50,000 migrants and refugees stranded in EU after it closed its border for further intake.

At the heart of the deal between the EU and Turkey is a controversial refugee exchange program. Under the plan, Syrian refugees on the Greek islands would be returned to Turkey, while European countries would take asylum seekers currently living in Turkey. Asylum seekers should only be returned to other states if there was guarantees that that they would not then be sent back to the place they had fled. The country of return also had to ensure asylum seekers had access to work, healthcare, education and social assistance.

Under the scheme agreed with the EU last month, one Syrian refugee will be settled in Europe legally in return for every migrant taken back by Turkey from EU member Greece, which faced the biggest influx in recent months. All irregular migrants who have landed on the Greek islands since March 20 face being sent back to Turkey although the deal calls for each case to be examined individually.

Their legal transfers under an agreement made between Turkey and the EU last month took place as Greece officially began to return migrants and refugees to Turkey under the deal that has run into strong criticism from rights groups. Under the agreement, all “irregular migrants” arriving in Greece from Turkey since 20 March face being sent back. Each case is meant to be examined individually. For every Syrian refugee returned, another Syrian refugee will theoretically be resettled from Turkey to the EU, with numbers capped at 72,000.

Factually, the implementation of EU’s plan to limit the amount of migration to Europe has begun as the first set of migrants and refugees are being deported to Turkey. The plan saw protest against deportations in the island of Chios. The agreement that came into effect on March 20 will see 4,000 migrants and refugees being detained on Greek islands. A total of 135 migrants were escorted onto small boats by officers from the EU border protection agency, Frontex. Despite receiving criticism from the human rights group, EU will continue to implement the plan and send the refugees to Turkish coast.

Implementation

The arrivals of Syrian refugees were part of Finland’s quota of 750 refugees it has agreed with the EU to accept this year. In December, the government decided to focus on helping Syrian refugees but Interior Ministry officials said it was not clear how many of the annual quota would be made up of Syrian refugees.

The number of Syrians arriving in Germany and Finland from Turkey – 43 – does not tally with the two to three Syrians understood to have been returned from Greece to Turkey, suggesting that the twin operations are more a carefully coordinated attempt by the EU to demonstrate that its pact with Ankara is working than a precise enacting of the plan. Brussels has also agreed to provide the Turkish government with money to cover the costs of looking after those who have fled the civil war in Syria and have taken refuge in Turkey.

On the other hand, the first refugees to be brought into the EU under a migrant-exchange deal with Turkey have arrived in Germany and Finland. Two planes, each carrying 16 Syrian refugees, arrived from Istanbul in the northern German city of Hanover, according to the federal refugee office. They were taken by bus to a reception camp about 90 miles away in Friedland, near Göttingen. Eleven more Syrians from three families, meanwhile, arrived in Finland by plane directly from Turkey. Finland’s immigration officials say that 11 Syrian refugees have arrived as part of a European Union deal with Turkey to curb illegal migration. Most of the newcomers to Germany were young families with children, but no details of their identities were released. The 32 are believed to be from three separate families. German authorities asked journalists to respect their privacy. Secrecy is maintained since there is also a hidden agenda.

Germany

Germany leads EU and now represents the new European nation in the UNSC almost as a permanent member. German observers are closely following the progress of the pact, not least the impact it will have on Merkel’s refugee policy, which has been widely criticised both at home and abroad. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is still under intense domestic pressure to ensure that there is no repeat of the situation where 1.1 million migrants and refugees arrived in Germany last year. Tens of thousands have already arrived this year. With the Turkey deal, Angela Merkel is operating an active refugee-crisis policy for the first time since the open-borders policy in September. She is eager to see the plan worked, sending out the right signal ‘to find legal ways to get to Europe’

Germany last year let in a record 1.1 migrants and refugees but Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under intense pressure to stem the flow. German officials have said they expect other EU member states to begin taking in refugees under the pact with Turkey.

Further, Germany profited from the recent closure of the Balkan route, because fewer refugees were able to enter Germany, Merkel has obliged the other 27 EU nations to take part in the course of action with Turkey. And in so doing she carries the main responsibility for the success or failure of this operation.

Refugee crisis

Having got Turkey agree for the refugee plan, now Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, insisted that sending refugees back to Turkey was legal and in line with the Geneva convention. Citing specific paragraphs in the EU’s asylum procedure directive, he said Greece had decided Turkey was “a safe country”, he said, the returns policy was legal.

Meanwhile, refugees and migrants protesting Europe’s closed borders have closed a second section of Greece’s highway heading to the official border crossing with Macedonia, blocking all road traffic in both directions. The blockade was being done near the Greek village of Idomeni, where a sprawling refugee camp of thousands developed in recent months. The area had been a pedestrian crossing for migrants and refugees until Macedonian authorities restricted the flow, and then closed it completely last month. Hundreds of refugees and migrants were continuing to block trucks from using another section of the highway further south near the town of Polykastro, where another impromptu refugee camp has sprung up at a highway gas station.

Refugees and migrants protesting Europe’s closed borders have closed a second section of Greece’s highway heading to the official border crossing with Macedonia, blocking all road traffic in both directions. Greek authorities said about 100 people blocked the highway near the Evzones border crossing. The blockade was being done near the Greek village of Idomeni, where a sprawling refugee camp of thousands developed in recent months. The area had been a pedestrian crossing for migrants and refugees until Macedonian authorities restricted the flow, and then closed it completely last month.

Greek authorities say the 202 migrants and refugees in Greek islands who had not applied for asylum in Greece and were returned to Turkey. They included people from several countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Congo. The Greek civil protection ministry said 136 people — 135 men and one woman — were returned from the island of Lesbos. They included 124 people from Pakistan, three from Bangladesh, one from Iraq, two from India, four from Sri Lanka and two Syrians.

Critique

A senior UN official says he is very concerned that a hasty EU deal with Turkey could leave Syrian refugees unprotected and at risk of being sent back to a war zone, without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law.

The number of refugees that Europe would take would depend on the number of refugees prepared to risk their lives through other means – and that is staring at a moral abyss. EU leaders have hailed the one-for-one plan as a breakthrough that would deter Syrians from making dangerous journeys across the Aegean Sea.

Human rights organisations have been highly critical of the EU plans for refugee control, warning that individuals may be prevented from claiming asylum under the scheme. The deportation is seen as a symbolic kick off of a dangerous practice. Those migrants who did not apply for asylum or had their applications declared inadmissible were deported. Moreover, no details of the nationality status of migrants being deported were given out.

The UNHCR called on Europe to ensure safeguards for refugees being returned to the Middle East at an EU summit shortly. Regional director for Europe at the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), said an EU commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees over two years, on a voluntary basis, remained “very low”. “The collective expulsion of foreigners is prohibited under the European convention of human rights,” he told a news briefing in Geneva.

Human rights groups are not convinced. Amnesty International has said it is absurd to describe Turkey as a safe third country, and that some Syrians have been returned to Syria and been shot at while trying to cross the Turkish border.

Human Rights Watch also said Turkey cannot be regarded as a safe country of asylum. “It is knowingly shortsighted for EU leaders to close their borders without considering the impact on Turkey’s borders with Syria,” said Bill Frelick, HRW’s refugee rights director.

According to the UNHCR, 31 out of Afghanistan’s 34 regions saw a surge in people fleeing conflict last year. The number of internally displaced Afghans has risen to a million people, up 78%. People often did not realize how many women and children were fleeing conflicts around the world.

The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, received a letter saying that Kurds fleeing Iraq, Syria and Turkey could face a “very dangerous situation” if they were forced to return to Turkey under the proposed EU deal. The increase in assaults by Turkish forces against the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) has led to more Kurds trying to reach Europe. “I am concerned that Kurds will potentially be sent back to Turkey as a result of the proposals agreed between the EU and Turkey which will lead to a very dangerous situation for Kurdish people”.

Turkey

Apparently, Turkey is not being considered a safe country for refugees and the implementation of the EU agreement is just the beginning of a difficult time for refugee rights.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Europe for turning back refugees on the first day that migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey. Speaking in Ankara, the president reproached Europe for not letting “these people into their countries” by raising razor wire fences. He asked: “Did we turn Syrians back? No, we didn’t, but they did.” However, Erdogan said Turkey had rescued 100,000 migrants from the Aegean Sea and spent $10 billion on Syrian refuges. Turkey, home to 2.7 million Syrian refugees, is a major departure point for Europe-bound migrants. The country has committed to crack down on smuggling in exchange for financial and political concessions from the EU. Greece began sending back migrants to Turkey in line with an EU deal to combat illegal migration.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on police officers to show compassion as his country received the first Syrians turned back from Greece. Speaking at the 171st anniversary ceremony of the founding of the Turkish police force, Davutoglu urged police officers not to “distinguish them from our own citizens.” A first group of 202 migrants were ferried from the Greek islands to Turkey as part of a controversial European Union plan to curb migration to Europe. Davutoglu said will send some of the Syrian refugees from the camps in Turkey to Europe as the first Syrians were brought across the Aegean to Turkey.

Observations

The Syrian conflict was entering its sixth year, adding that Syrian refugees were facing increasingly difficult conditions in Jordan and Lebanon: 90% lives below the poverty line as they were unable to work and had run down all their savings. Afghans, who many European states do not deem to have legitimate asylum claims, also had urgent protection needs.

Refugee advocates question whether the agreement is legal and ethical, fearing individuals will be denied the right to claim asylum, conversely their right to live. Europe could take a lot more, but Europe is determined not to. Europe has tried to isolate the problem in Greece and further to collaborate with Greece in exporting the problem back to Turkey. If the great powers of the world got their act together they would actually be able to stop the conflict and negotiate proper terms in Syria, so the whole thing is really a condemnation of international policy and of what passes for world governance nowadays.

While the Syrian refugees continue to suffer in the worst manner, nobody seems to be living up to their legal responsibilities either between the European Union and Greece and Turkey, lots of international law and conventions are being violated by those governments. Many people are concerned of what they see as divisions within Europe. At this point obviously Greece is shouldering a lot of the burden, because it’s a country recovering apparently from its economic recession itself.

The controversial European Union-Turkey deal may not find a credible solution to the refugee crisis. Syria peace talks will go ahead with more urgency in essence to try to solve this issue and it certainly puts pressure on the European Union to deliver, but they are exporting the problem back to Turkey and Turkey is of course a key player in whatever solution emerges in Syria.

Syrian refugees in alien nations have got no sovereignty, no freedom, and no rights. They are treated like street dogs. They are now the refugees thanks to arrogance of President Assad who considers his life more important than Syria.

Continue Reading
Comments

Europe

Europe tells Biden “no way” to Cold War with China

Published

on

Amidst the first big transatlantic tensions for the Biden Administration, a new poll shows that the majority of Europeans see a new Cold War happening between the United States and China, but they don’t see themselves as a part of it.

Overwhelmingly, 62% of Europeans believe that the US is engaged in a new Cold War against China, a new poll just released by the European Council on Foreign Relations found. Just yesterday US President Joe Biden claimed before the UN General Assembly that there is no such thing and the US is not engaging in a new Cold War. So, Europeans see Biden’s bluff and call him on it.

The study was released on Wednesday by Mark Leonard and Ivan Krastev at the European Council on Foreign Relations and found that Europeans don’t see themselves as direct participants in the US-China Cold War. This viewpoint is most pronounced in Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Italy, according to the study. The prevailing view, in each of the 12 surveyed EU member states, is one of irrelevance – with respondents in Hungary (91%), Bulgaria (80%), Portugal (79%), and Austria (78%) saying that their country is not in a conflict with Beijing.

Only 15% of Europeans believe that the EU is engaged in a Cold War against China. The percentage is so low that one wonders if there should even be such a question. It is not only not a priority, it is not even a question on the agenda for Europeans. Even at the highest point of EU “hawkishness”, only 33% of Swedes hold the view that their country is currently in a Cold War with China.  Leonard and Krastev warn that if Washington and Brussels are preparing for an all-in generational struggle against China, this runs against the grain of opinion in Europe, and leaders in Washington and Brussels will quickly discover that they “do not have a societal consensus behind them”.

“The European public thinks there is a new cold war – but they don’t want to have anything to do with it. Our polling reveals that a “cold war” framing risks alienating European voters”, Mark Leonard said.

The EU doesn’t have the backing of its citizens to follow the US in its new Cold War pursuit. But unlike the views of the authors of the study, my view is that this is not a transatlantic rift that we actually have to be trying to fix. Biden’s China policy won’t be Europe’s China policy, and that’s that, despite US efforts to persuade Europe to follow, as I’ve argued months ago for the Brussels Report and in Modern Diplomacy.

In March this year, Gallup released a poll that showed that 45% of Americans see China as the greatest US enemy. The poll did not frame the question as Cold War but it can be argued that Joe Biden has some mandate derived from the opinion of American people. That is not the case for Europe at all, to the extent that most of us don’t see “China as an enemy” even as a relevant question.

The US’s China pursuit is already giving horrible for the US results in Europe, as French President Macron withdrew the French Ambassador to the US. The US made a deal already in June, as a part of the trilateral partnership with the UK and Australia, and stabbed France in the back months ago to Macron’s last-minute surprise last week. Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations argues that it is Macron that is actually arrogant to expect that commitments and deals should mean something: “Back in February, Macron rejected the idea of a U.S.-E.U. common front against China. Now he complains when America pursues its own strategy against China. What’s French for chutzpah?” What Boot does get right is that indeed, there won’t be a joint US-EU front on China, and European citizens also don’t want this, as the recent poll has made clear.

The US saying Europe should follow the US into a Cold War with China over human rights is the same thing as China saying that Europe should start a Cold War with the US over the bad US human rights record. It’s not going to happen. You have to understand that this is how ridiculous the proposition sounds to us, Europeans. Leonard and Krastev urge the EU leadership to “make the case for more assertive policies” towards China around European and national interests rather than a Cold War logic, so that they can sell a strong, united, and compelling case for the future of the Atlantic alliance to European citizens.

I am not sure that I agree, as “more assertive policies” and “cold war” is probably the same thing in the mind of most Europeans and I don’t think that the nuance helps here or matters at all. Leaders like Biden argue anyway that the US is not really pursuing a Cold War. The authors caution EU leaders against adopting a “cold war” framing. You say “framing”, I say “spin”. Should we be in engaging in spins at all to sell unnecessary conflict to EU citizens only to please the US?

Unlike during the first cold war, [Europeans] do not see an immediate, existential threat”, Leonard clarified. European politicians can no longer rely on tensions with China to convince the electorate of the value of transatlantic relations. “Instead, they need to make the case from European interests, showing how a rebalanced alliance can empower and restore sovereignty to European citizens in a dangerous world”, Mark Leonard added. The study shows that there is a growing “disconnect” between the policy ambitions of those in Brussels and how Europeans think. EU citizens should stick to their sentiments and not be convinced to look for conflict where it doesn’t exist, or change what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears in favor of elusive things like the transatlantic partnership, which the US itself doesn’t believe in anyways. And the last thing that should be done is to scare Europeans by convincing them they live in a “dangerous world” and China is the biggest threat or concern.

What the study makes clear is that a Cold War framing against China is likely to repel more EU voters than it attracts, and if there is one thing that politicians know it is that you have to listen to the polls in what your people are telling you instead of engaging in spins. Those that don’t listen in advance get the signs eventually. At the end of the day it’s not important what Biden wants.

Continue Reading

Europe

Germany and its Neo-imperial quest

Published

on

In January 2021, eight months ago, when rumours about the possibility of appointment of Christian Schmidt as the High Representative in Bosnia occurred for the first time, I published the text under the title ‘Has Germany Lost Its NATO Compass?’. In this text I announced that Schmidt was appointed to help Dragan Čović, the leader of the Croatian HDZ party, to disrupt the constitutional structure of Bosnia-Herzegovina and create precoditions for secession of the Serb- and Croatian-held territories in Bosnia and the country’s final dissolution. I can hardly add anything new to it, except for the fact that Schmidt’s recent statements at the conference of Deutsche Atlantische Gesellschaft have fully confirmed my claims that his role in Bosnia is to act as Čović’s ally in the latter’s attempts to carve up the Bosnian Constitution.

Schmidt is a person with a heavy burden, the burden of a man who has continuously been promoting Croatian interests, for which the Croatian state decorated him with the medal of “Ante Starčević”, which, in his own words, he “proudly wears” and shares with several Croatian convicted war criminals who participated in the 1992-1995 aggression on Bosnia, whom Schmidt obviously perceives as his ideological brethren. The question is, then, why Germany appointed him as the High Representative in Bosnia? 

Germany’s policy towards Bosnia, exercised mostly through the institutions of the European Union, has continuously been based on the concept of Bosnia’s ethnic partition. The phrases that we can occassionaly hear from the EU, on inviolability of state boundaries in the Balkans, is just a rhetoric adapted to the demands by the United States to keep these boundaries intact. So far, these boundaries have remained intact mainly due to the US efforts to preserve them. However, from the notorious Lisbon Conference in February 1992 to the present day, the European Union has always officially stood behind the idea that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be partitioned along ethnic lines. At the Lisbon Conference, Lord Carrington and Jose Cutileiro, the official representatives of the then European Community, which has in the meantime been rebranded as the European Union, drew the maps with lines of ethnic partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, along which the ethnic cleansing was committed, with 100.000 killed and 1,000.000 expelled, so as to make its territory compatible with their maps. Neither Germany nor the European Union have ever distanced themselves from the idea they promoted and imposed at the Lisbon Conference as ‘the only possible solution’ for Bosnia, despite the grave consequences that followed. Nor has this idea ever stopped being a must within their foreign policy circles, as it has recently been demonstrated by the so-called Janša Non-Paper, launched a couple of months ago, which also advocates the final partition and dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such a plan is probably a product of the powerful right-wing circles in the European institutions, such as Schmidt’s CSU, rather than a homework of Janez Janša, the current Prime Minister of Slovenia, whose party is a part of these circles, albeit a minor one. To be sure, Germany is not the original author of the idea of Bosnia’s partition, this author is Great Britain, which launched it directly through Lord Carrington at the Lisbon Conference. Yet, Germany has never shown a will to distance itself from this idea, nor has it done the European Union. Moreover, the appointment of Schmidt, as a member of those political circles which promote ethnic partition as the only solution for multiethnic countries, testifies to the fact that Germany has decided to fully apply this idea and act as its chief promoter.

In this process, the neighbouring countries, Serbia and Croatia, with their extreme nationalist policies, can only act as the EU’s proxies, in charge for the physical implemenation of Bosnia’s pre-meditated disappearance. All the crimes that Serbia and Croatia committed on the Bosnian soil – from the military aggression, over war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide, up to the 30 year-long efforts to undermine Bosnia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – have always had a direct approval and absolute support of the leading EU countries. During the war and in its aftermath, Great Britain and France were the leaders of the initiatives to impose ethnic partition on the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and now Germany has taken up their role. In such a context, the increasing aggressiveness of Serbia and Croatia can only be interpreted as a consequence of the EU’s intention to finish with Bosnia for good, and Schmidt has arrived to Bosnia to facilitate that process. Therefore, it is high time for the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina to abandon any ilussions about the true intentions of the European Union and reject its Trojan Horse in the form of the current High Representative.  

Continue Reading

Europe

Should there be an age limit to be President?

Published

on

The presidential elections in Bulgaria are nearing in November 2021 and I would like to run for President of Bulgaria, but the issue is the age limit.

To run for President in Bulgaria a candidate needs to be at least 40 years old and I am 37. I am not the first to raise the question: should there be an age limit to run for President, and generally for office, and isn’t an age limit actually age discrimination?

Under the international human rights law standard, putting an age limit is allowed in the context of political participation under the right to vote and the right to run to be elected. Human Rights Committee General Comment No.25 interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that an age limit has to be based on objective and reasonable criteria, adding that it is reasonable to have a higher age requirement for certain offices. As it stands, the law says that having an age limit for president is not age discrimination, but is 40 actually a reasonable cut-off? National legislations can change. We need to lower the age limit and rethink what’s a reasonable age for President, and not do away with all age limits.

We have seen strong leaders emerge as heads of state and government who are below 40 years of age. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, became Prime Minister at 34. Sebastrian Kurz, the Prime Minister of Austria, was elected at 31. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, assumed her position at 37. So perhaps it is time to rethink age limits for the highest offices.

The US has plenty of examples where elected Senators and Congressmen actually beat the age limit and made it despite the convention. The age limit for Senator in the US is 30 years old. Rush Holt was elected to the US Senate at 29. In South Carolina, two State Senators were elected at 24 years old and they were seated anyways. The age limit for US president is 35 years old.

In Argentina, the age cut-off is 30. In India, it is 35. In Pakistan, it is 45 years old. In Turkey, it is 40 years old. Iceland says 35 years old. In France, it is 18.

Generally, democracies set lower age limits. More conservative countries set the age limit higher in line with stereotypes rather than any real world evidence that a 45 year-old or 55 year-old person would be more effective and better suited to the job. Liberal countries tend to set lower age limits.

40 years old to be a President of Bulgaria seems to be an arbitrary line drawn. And while it is legal to have some age limits, 40 years old seems to be last century. Changing the age limit for president of Bulgaria could be a task for the next Bulgarian Parliament for which Bulgarians will also vote on the same date as they vote for President.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Middle East1 hour ago

Turkish Geopolitics and the Kabul Airport Saga

The Taliban’s ultimate agreement to a prominent Turkish security presence at Afghanistan’s only airport completes an important power-play for the...

Finance3 hours ago

Clean Skies for Tomorrow Leaders: 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030

Today, 60 companies in the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition – whose mission is to accelerate the...

Southeast Asia5 hours ago

The Indo-Pacific Conundrum: Why U.S. Plans Are Destined to Fail

That U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris paid an official visit to Singapore and Vietnam in late August 2021 signifies clear...

Middle East7 hours ago

The Battle for the Soul of Islam: Will the real reformer of the faith stand up?

Saudi and Emirati efforts to define ‘moderate’ Islam as socially more liberal while being subservient to an autocratic ruler is...

Reports9 hours ago

Financing Options Key to Africa’s Transition to Sustainable Energy

A new whitepaper outlining the key considerations in setting the course for Africa’s energy future was released today at the...

Defense11 hours ago

Eastern seas after Afghanistan: UK and Australia come to the rescue of the U.S. in a clumsy way

In March 2021 the People’s Republic of China emerged as the world’s largest naval fleet, surpassing the US Navy. An...

Southeast Asia13 hours ago

AUKUS: A Sequela of World War II and US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Deemed as a historic security pact, AUKUS was unveiled by the leaders of the US, the UK and Australia –...

Trending