3 billion euros, speed up of visa liberalisation and acceleration of EU accession negotiations. This is briefly what Turkey got on Sunday’s summit with EU leaders in exchange of limiting the refugees’ arrivals to Europe. Article 2 of the Treaty of the EU states that “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.” However, as everything, also this values have their price.
Sunday’s agreement with Turkey is marked as one of the most important steps in the way to resolve the refugee and migration crisis along the so-called Balkan route, which passes also through Slovenia, who saw entering 281.682 persons, while at least 269.368 already left the country and continued the journey (the data are for the situation on the first of December).
The agreement (a summary is available here) foresees the re-energizing of the Turkish accession talks. They started in 2005, after the country obtained its candidate status in 1999. Until now Turkey opened 14 (out of 35) negotiation chapters and temporary closed one. Following the agreement the country should open a new chapter on December 14th and the Commission should start with the preparation work to open further chapters. Both sides also agreed to strengthen the dialogue on the highest level by organising more frequent structured meetings, that would include also summits twice a year. During this summits both parties should assess the development of EU-Turkey relations and discuss international issues.
In addition, the agreement foresees also the continuation of visa liberalisation. The sides agreed to apply the readmission agreement (for persons that illegally entered the territory of the other) and lift the visa requirements for Turkish citizens by October next year.
Among all, the most important part is most probably the 3 billion euros additional help for Turkey to cope with the refugees present on its territory.
With this Turkey agreed to implement the action plan that aims at preventing travel to Turkey and the EU by economic migrants, ensuring the application of the established bilateral readmission provisions and swiftly returning them to their countries of origin. Moreover, Turkey should improve the situation of Syrian refugees and fight better against criminal smuggling networks.
With this post I don’t want to moralize regarding the agreement. The Treaty of the EU cited at the beginning states also, that the Union aims to improve the well-being of its peoples and offer provides its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers. Currently this area sees a lot of problems. The current situation is definitely something new that nobody was expecting, even if we should have.
However Sunday’s agreement exposed the impotence of the EU and its Member States and our hypocrisy. It proves our impotence because it shows that we can’t provide the protection of our external border and therefore we leave the dirty job to someone else. On the other side it shows how hypocritical we are, as not long ago we highly criticized the Turkish leadership for their attacks on democracy and fundamental freedoms. Now, when we can’t resolve the problems we partly caused ourselves, we are willing to sell our fundamental values that are, again in our view, threatened by the current refugee crisis.
It’s true. The current refugee crisis threatens our basic values. However, these values are not threatened by the refugees that are coming. They are threatened by ourselves and by our actions. They are threatened when we preach about the need to respect human rights and at the same time we close both our eyes if we need help from someone who violates them. They are threatened when we preach about the respect of human dignity while, at the same time, we permit that refugees (and a lot of our citizens) live in inhuman conditions. IN the past years we have sold already a lot of our values. If we sell also their foundations, we are left with nothing.