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EU-Turkey migrant deal is give-and-take

The EU-Turkey’s draft deal seems practical as it could stop smugglers from exploiting desperate refugees, and stem the flow of migrants to Greece, which has no capacity to accommodate them. Yet, the pact has come under fire from the UN and rights groups.
The EU consensus shows European leaders are resolved to give a window of opportunity for refugees through legal measures. So with a new hope of
resettlement, many refugees stand a chance of legal resettlement.
Under the proposal, whose details are to be worked out at a March 17 EU summit, Syrian refugees caught attempting to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece would be sent back to Turkey. Ankara would agree to accept them all, but for each Syrian returned to Turkey, the EU would accept one Syrian refugee that Turkey has already screened.
This draft deal isn’t free of charge anyway. In exchange, Turkey has demanded that the EU increase its financial support to it, speed up plans to let more Turks travel in Europe without visas, and restart stalled talks on Turkey’s membership in the EU.
With about 2.5 million migrants to feed, Turkey seeks financial aid and other inducements. The EU is well aware that the large majority of the 1 million migrants that entered last year passed through Turkey. Ankara could unleash a tidal wave of asylum-seekers if it chose to, a prospect that gives EU leaders heart failure.
Given the EU and Turkey’s mutual interest in a deal over migrants and geopolitics, there are plenty of reasons why European officials might be tempted to gloss over Turkey’s internal political issues. Yet, there are voices in Europe that say Europe should speak up for its values for its own sake as much as for Turkey’s, and that silence would signal a dangerous kind of consent.
However, the UN and the rights group voiced deep concerns on Tuesday about the legality of the European Union’s plans to send thousands of migrants back to Turkey, where they had fled from.
“I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the
blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told EU lawmakers.
Amnesty International also warned that the plan is “legally flawed”. Europe’s attempt to have Turkey designated as a safe country is “alarmingly shortsighted and inhumane”, the group said.
“Turkey has forcibly returned refugees to Syria, and many refugees in the country live in desperate conditions without adequate housing,” said Iverna
McGowan, head of Amnesty’s European office.
Similar criticism was echoed by the medical aid group Doctors Without
Borders, which said the agreement is cynical and a sign that “European leaders have completely lost track of reality”.
To stem the refugee influx, NATO too is helping the EU to deal with the issue. The alliance announced that it was expanding its mission to help stop the smuggling of migrants into Europe by deploying warships in Greek and Turkish
waters, reinforcing its flotilla and deepening cooperation with the EU’s Frontex border agency.
After 12 hours of talks in Brussels, the EU’s heavyweight German chancellor, Angela Merkel, described the proposal as a “breakthrough” that would deter refugees from making the perilous sea crossing to Greece.
Turkey remains a key partner in settling the refugee crisis, being a main
gateway for migrants on their risky journeys to Europe. Being aware of this
reality, the EU leaders pledged to provide 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to help Ankara address the Syrian refugee issue.
The draft deal is give-and-take. Turkey will do its best to stem the flow of refugees into Europe, while the EU will speed up Ankara’s membership process and ease EU visa requirements for Turks.

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