EU hands Erdogan’s regime £1.2bn as part of its ‘shameful’ refugee deal

Ask whether Turkey itself is a safe country for refugees.
Ask whether Turkey itself is a safe country for refugees.

EU to give Turkey 1.5 billion euros in aid for Syrian refugees in 2019. Ask whether Turkey itself is a safe country for refugees.

European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said on Thursday the EU would dedicate 2 billion euros ($2.27 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees in 2019, including 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for those living in Turkey.

Brussels and Ankara agreed on a deal two years ago that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey. According to the deal, the EU promised to allocate a total of 6 billion euros in aid to Turkey to help migrants, while Turkey pledged to increase security along its borders.

Mogherini’s announcement came a day after the European Parliament voted in favour of an annual report on Turkey that called on EU leaders to formally suspend Turkey’s accession talks.

EU turning a blind eye as long as it gets some immigration control

The report, prepared by European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri, warned against a serious backslide in Turkey in terms of human rights and the rule of law, yet appreciated Turkey’s efforts to provide shelter to around 4.5 million Syrian refugees. It called the EU decision makers to keep promises made to assist Syrians in Turkey.

Whats the deal?

The EU-Turkey refugee deal aims to reduce irregular migration and decrease migrant deaths, smuggling, and other human rights violations by providing legal alternatives. Turkey agreed to take back all new asylum seekers entering Greece from Turkey. In exchange, EU member states promised to increase resettlement of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey, accelerate visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals, and boost existing financial support for Turkey’s refugee population.

The EU-Turkey deal fits in a wider EU trend of externalizing migration policies and shifting responsibilities for migration control onto countries of origin and transit. In times of (perceived) increasing asylum and migration flows in Europe and a hardening political climate such deals are increasingly presented as a way to solve the ‘crisis’ (Zoomers et al. 2018).

Interviewing people on the move

This project focused on the effects of the EU-Turkey deal. How did the deal transform mixed migration flows and people’s reliance on human smugglers therein? What has been the impact of the deal on resettlement from Turkey to Europe? To produce evidence-based insights on the implementation and the effects of the deal, the project team conducted field research in Greece, Turkey and Pakistan. The researchers interviewed forced returnees, migrants on the move and resettled families in the Netherlands. They also interviewed experts and conducted document analysis.

Turning the tide

The research shows that the EU-Turkey deal has not been successful in turning the tide. It should not be seen as a solution to a complex multi-layered problem. Despite all measures taken and money invested, migrants are still arriving on the Greek islands, albeit in smaller numbers. Besides, Syrians make up the largest share of new arrivals in Greece, illustrating that Turkey does not function as a safe third country for them.

The deal furthermore resulted in people taking higher risks to cross borders to circumvent the controls in place. the main migration route towards Europe now passes through Libya and Italy (again) and the route from North Africa to Spain is gaining popularity as a result of closures elsewhere. As a consequence of these increasing restrictions at Europe’s borders migrants are becoming even more dependent on human traffickers, which was supposed to change with the EU-Turkey deal.

Trying again

Although in the short term the EU-Turkey deal has curbed a particular flow of people entering the EU, the interviews with repatriated migrants showed that many will try to come to Europe again, even after repatriation. According to the researchers, the most problematic consequence of this ‘cat and mouse game’ played at the borders is the high human cost involved. The number of people dying at Europe’s borders is still very high. The researchers fear these numbers are not going to drop until safe legal migration opportunities are offered.

Three problems

Apart from these general findings the research showed three specific problems with the design and implementation of the EU-Turkey deal:

  1. The fast-track asylum procedures are implemented within the framework of exceptional measures in times of a ‘crisis’. These should not replace quality assessment and should still guarantee access to the asylum system for migrants.
  2. The researchers observed discrimination on grounds of nationality in both asylum case management and police practices.
  3. The EU-Turkey deal was designed around the assumption that Turkey is a safe third country, but it is very difficult for refugees to get access to Turkish asylum procedures, and to protection or access to basic needs such as education or employment in the country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tyrannical regime in Turkey was handed €1.5 billion (£1.2bn) from the EU, as the undemocratic body was accused of having:

“the blood of Kurds on its hands.”

EU policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the release of the bumper payout in Brussels during the neoliberal economic bloc’s “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” Third Annual Conference.

Speaking at a press conference in the Belgian capital, she said: “I would like to confirm the European Union contribution of €1.5bn to the second tranche of the facility for refugees in Turkey.”

She announced the funding plans, which are part of the controversial deal aimed at keeping refugees out of the EU and have been described by human rights organisations as :

“a shameful stain on the collective conscience of Europe.”

The agreement allows EU countries to return asylum-seekers to squalid camps in Turkey. Thousands are said to have suffered as a result of the deal since it came into effect three years ago.

EU Money Helped Fortify Turkey’s Border

The border wall between Turkey and Syria
The border wall between Turkey and Syria Funded by the EU

Turkey has barricaded its border to Syria with the help of funding from the European Union. There are few options left for Syrians trying to flee the brutal war in their home country and those who do risk death.

Turkey shares an 822 kilometer border with Syria, a country which has suffered bombardment from all angles since 2011, including several EU member states. The wall runs through the provinces of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Sirnak and incorporates physical, electronic and advanced technology layers.

The physical layer includes modular concrete walls, patrol routes, manned and unmanned towers and passenger tracks.

While the EU and its loyal followers persistently preach that any form of borders are racist, many will be shocked to learn that the construction of this wall was largely funded by the 28-member state union.

The border wall between Turkey and Syria Funded by the EU

Report from Der spiegel’s Maximilian Popp

“The Syrian civil war is now in its seventh year. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting so far. Millions have been driven out. The week before last, Turkey displaced tens of thousands with its military intervention in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, which it has captured from the Kurdish YPG militia. Even though no peace is in sight, Syria’s neighbors — including Lebanon and Jordan — are refusing to take in any further refugees. Turkey has even built a wall along its border to Syria. It is several hundred kilometers long, 3 meters (10 feet) high and equipped with heat-detection cameras.

Khaled says the Turkish soldiers indiscriminately opened fire on the refugees. Although his claims are difficult to verify, the details do seem to line up and correspond with reports from over a half-dozen witnesses interviewed by DER SPIEGEL. Last Thursday, Human Rights Watch reported similar cases, as well as mass deportations of Syrian refugees from Turkey. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, whose numbers cannot be independently verified, at least 42 people have died trying to cross the border wall since September. The Turkish government did not answer DER SPIEGEL’s request for comment.

EU Complicity

As a European Union member, the German government is also implicated in the arming of the Turkish border against refugees. The EU states have provided the government in Ankara with security and surveillance technology valued at more than 80 million euros in exchange for the protection of its borders, according to research conducted by DER SPIEGEL and the European Investigative Collaborations network (EIC).

This included the transfer of 35.6 million euros by Brussels to the Turkish company Otokar as part of its IPA regional development program for the construction of armored Cobra II military vehicles, which are now being used to patrol the border to Syria.

Ms Mogherini said: “I am proud today to announce that the European Union is confirming its pledge of €560 million (£476m)for 2019, and is committing to the same amount in 2020. And we have the ambition to maintain the same levels for 2021.”

Arms manufacturer Aselsan, of which the Turkish state owns a majority stake, was also commissioned by the EU to provide Ankara with 30 million euros worth of armored and non-armored surveillance vehicles for patrolling the Turkish-Greek land border.

In March 2016, the EU and Ankara closed a deal under which the Europeans would pay 3 billion euros to Turkey if the country kept the refugees inside its borders. The money was intended to help the Syrians in Turkey, but 18 million euros went to a Dutch company that manufactured six patrol boats for the Turkish coast guard.


The border to Turkey had remained open to Syrians until summer 2015. Some 3.5 million Syrians came to Turkey as refugees, more than any other country. Since then, Ankara has closed the Syrians’ escape route, partly due to pressure from the EU. Anyone still seeking to escape the war in Syria must now either be prepared to pay a lot of money or to risk their lives.

Ultimately, the EU’s refugee agreement with Turkey has merely served to shift the crisis: Fewer people are dying now in the Aegean, where the number of boat crossings to Greece has decreased since the signing of the agreement. Instead, people are now dying at the Turkish-Syrian border. End report:

Mr Erdogan presides over a regime in Turkey that has seen the virtual shutdown of democracy.

More than 170,000 public-sector workers have been sacked following a failed coup attempt in July 2016, which also saw thousands of academics purged from their posts, hundreds of media organisations shut and the jailing of more journalists than any other country.

As local elections loom politicians from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) remain in prison along with around 8,000 activists.

Former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag face life in prison while MP for Hakkari Leyla Guven has been on hunger strike for more than 120 days over Turkey’s continued isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The EU providing a War chest.

The EU payout has been slammed amid warnings the cash is being used to wage war both inside the country and across the borders in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking to the from Van province, close to Turkey’s border with Iran, a Kurdish woman known as Kubra said: “This money is not being used to help refugees, it is being used to buy weapons and bombs to kill Kurds. The EU has the blood of Kurds on its hands.”

Kurdish People Fast Facts

Kurdish rebel movement
Kurdish rebel movement

Here’s some background information about the Kurdish people. Kurds do not have an official homeland or country. Most reside within countries in the Middle East including northern Iraq, eastern Turkey, western Iran and small portions of northern Syria and Armenia.

About theKurdistan region:
Area: Roughly 74,000 sq mi Population: approximately 25-30 million (some Kurds reside outside of Kurdistan) Religion: Most are Sunni Muslims; some practice Sufism, a type of mystic Islam.

Other Facts:

Kurds have never achieved nation-state status, making Kurdistan a non-governmental region and one of the largest stateless nations in the world.

Portions of the region are recognized by two countries: Iran, where the province of Kordestan lies; and northern Iraq, site of the autonomous region known as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)or Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurds were mostly nomadic until the end of World War I and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

Kurds make up about 10% of the population in Syria, 19% of the population of Turkey,15-20% of the population of Iraq, and nearly 10% of Iran.

ThePeshmerga is a more than 100,000-strong national military force which protects Iraqi Kurdistan, and includes female fighters.


  • October 30, 1918 – (TURKEY) – The Armistice of Mudros marks the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.


  • November 3, 1918 – (IRAQ) – With the discovery of oil in the Kurdish province of Mosul, British forces occupy the region.


  • August 10, 1920 – (TURKEY) – The Treaty of Sèvres outlines the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, with Turkey renouncing rights over certain areas in Asia and North Africa. It calls for the recognition of new independent states, including an autonomous Kurdistan. It is never ratified.


  • July 24, 1923 –(TURKEY) – The Allies and the former Ottoman Empire sign and ratify the Treaty of Lausanne, which recognizes Turkey as an independent nation. In the final treaty marking the conclusion of World War I, the Allies drop demands for an autonomous Turkish Kurdistan. The Kurdish region is eventually divided among several countries.


  • 1923 –(IRAQ) – Former Kurdish Governor Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji stages an uprising against British rule, declaring a Kurdish kingdom in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq.


  • 1924 – (IRAQ) – British Forces retake Sulaimaniya.


  • 1943-1945 – (IRAQ/IRAN) -Mustafa Barzani leads an uprising, gaining control of areas of Erbil and Badinan. When the uprising is defeated, Barzani and his forces retreat to Kurdish areas in Iran and align with nationalist fighters under the leadership of Qazi Muhammad.


  • January 1946 – (IRAN) – The Kurdish Republic of Mahābād is established as a Kurdish state, with backing from the Soviet Union. The short-lived country encompasses the city of Mahābād in Iran, which is largely Kurdish and near the Iraq border. However, Soviets withdraw the same year and the Republic of Mahābād collapses.



  • 1957 – (SYRIA) – 250 Kurdish children die in an arson attack on a cinema. It is blamed on Arab nationalists.


  • 1958 – (SYRIA) – The government formally bans all Kurdish-language publications.


  • 1958 – (IRAQ) – After Iraq’s 1958 revolution, a new constitution is established, which declares Arabs and Kurds as “partners in this homeland.”


  • 1961 – (IRAQ) – KDP begins a rebellion in northern Iraq. Within two weeks, the Iraqi government dissolves the Kurdish Democratic Party.


  • March 1970 –(IRAQ) – A peace agreement between Iraqi government and Kurds grants the Kurds autonomy. Kurdish is recognized as an official language, and an amendment to the constitution states: “the Iraqi people is made up of two nationalities: the Arab nationality and the Kurdish nationality.”


  • March 6, 1975 – (ALGERIA) – Iraqi President Saddam Husseinand Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran sign a treaty. Iraq gives up claims to the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, while Iran agrees to end its support of the independence seeking Kurds.


  • June 1975 – (IRAQ) – Former KDP Leader Jalal Talabani, establishes the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The following year, PUK takes up an armed campaign against the Iraqi government.


  • 1978 –(IRAQ) – KDP and PUK forces clash, leaving many dead.



  • Late 1970s –(IRAQ) – The Baath Party, under Saddam Hussein’s leadership, uproots Kurds from areas with Kurdish majorities, and settles southern-Iraqi Arabs into those regions. Into the 1980s, Kurds are forcibly removed from the Iranian border as Kurds are suspected of aiding Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War.


  • 1979 – (IRAQ) Mustafa Barzani dies in Washington. His son, Massoud Barzani,is elected president of KDP following his death.


  • 1980 – (IRAQ)– The Iran-Iraq War begins. Although the KDP forces work closely with Iran, the PUK does not.


  • 1983 – (IRAQ) -PUK agrees to a cease-fire with Iraq and begins negotiations on Kurdish autonomy.


  • August 1984 – (TURKEY) – PKK launches violent separatist campaign in Turkey, starting with killing two soldiers. The conflict eventually spreads to Iran, Iraq and Syria.


  • 1985 –(IRAQ) -The cease-fire between Iraq and PUK breaks down.


  • 1986 –(IRAQ) – After an Iranian-sponsored reconciliation, both KDP and PUK receive support from Tehran.


  • 1987 –(TURKEY) – Turkey imposes state of emergency in the southeastern region of the country in response to PKK attacks.


  • February-August 1988 – (IRAQ) – During Operation Anfal(“spoils” in Arabic), created to quell Kurdish resistance, the Iraqi military uses large quantities of chemical weapons on Kurdish civilians. Iraqi forces destroy more than 4,000 villages in Kurdistan.It is believed that some 100,000 Kurds were killed.



  • 1990-1991 –(IRAQ) – The Gulf War begins when Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait seeking its oil reserves. There is a mass exodus of Kurds out of Iraq as more than a million flee into Turkey and Iran.


  • February 28, 1991 – (IRAQ) – Hussein agrees to a cease-fire, ending the Gulf War.


  • March 1991 – (IRAQ) – Kurdish uprising begins, and in two weeks, the Kurdish militia gains control of Iraqi Kurdistan, including the oil-rich town of Kirkuk. After allied support to the Kurds is denied, Iraq crushes the uprising. Two million Kurds flee, but are forced to hide out in the mountains as Turkey closes its border.


  • April 1991 –(IRAQ) – A safe haven is established in Iraqi Kurdistan by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Iraqi forces are barred from operating within the region, and Kurds begin autonomous rule, with KDP leading the north and PUK leading the south.


  • 1992 –(IRAQ) -In an anti-PKK operation, 20,000 Turkish troops enter Kurdish safe havens in Iraq.


  • 1994-1998 – (IRAQ) – PUK and KDP members engage in armed conflict, known as the Fratricide War, in Iraqi Kurdistan.





  • 1998 – (IRAQ) -The conflict between KDP and PUK ends, and a peace agreement is reached. This is brokered by the United States, and the accord is signed in Washington.



  • 2002 – (TURKEY) -Under pressure from the European Union, Turkey legalizes broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language. Turkish forces still combat PKK, including military incursions into northern Iraq.


  • May 2002 – (TURKEY) – The European Uniondesignates the PKK as a terrorist organization.



  • March 2004 – (SYRIA) – Nine people are killed at a football (soccer) arena in Qamishli after clashes with riot police. Kurds demonstrate throughout the city, and unrest spreads to nearby towns in the following days, after security forces open fire at the funerals.


  • June 2004 – (TURKEY) – State TV broadcasts Kurdish-language programs for the first time.


  • April 6-7, 2005 – (IRAQ) – Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is selected the country’s president by the transitional national assembly, and is sworn in the next day.


  • July 2005 – (TURKEY) – Six people die from a bomb planted on a train by a Kurdish guerrilla. Turkish officials blame the PKK.


  • 2005 – (IRAQ) -The 2005 Iraqi constitution upholds Kurdish autonomy, and designates Kurdistan as an autonomous federal region.




  • 2009 – (TURKEY) – A policy called the Kurdish Initiative increases Kurdish language rights and reduces military presence in the mostly Kurdish southeast.


  • September 2010 – (IRAN) – A bomb detonates during a parade in Mahābād, leaving 12 dead and dozens injured. No group claims responsibility for the attack, but authorities blame Kurdish separatists. In 2014, authorities arrest members of Koumaleh, a Kurdish armed group, for the attack.



  • October 2011 – (SYRIA) -Meshaal Tammo, a Syrian Kurdish activist, is assassinated. Many Kurds blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime for the assassination.



  • June 2012 – (TURKEY) – Turkish forces strike PKK rebel bases in Iraq after a PKK attack in southern Turkey kills eight Turkish soldiers.


  • July 2012 – (SYRIA) – Amid the country’s civil war, Syrian security forces retreat from several Kurdish towns in the northeastern part of the country.



  • December 2012 – (TURKEY) – Erdogan announces the government has begun peace talks with the PKK.



  • March 21, 2013 – (TURKEY) – Imprisoned PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan calls for dialogue: a letter from him is read in the Turkish Parliament, “We for tens of years gave up our lives for this struggle, we paid a price. We have come to a point at which the guns must be silent and ideas must talk.”








  • December 2, 2014 –(IRAQ) The government of Iraq and the government of Iraqi Kurdistan sign an agreement to share oil revenues and military resources. Iraq will now pay the salaries of Peshmerga fighters battling ISIS and act as an intermediary to deliver US weapons to Kurdish forces. The Kurdistan government will deliver more than half a million barrels of oil daily to the Iraqi government. Profits from the sale of the oil will be split between the two governments.






  • June 16, 2015 –(SYRIA) Kurdish forces in the Syrian town, Tal Abyad say they have defeated ISIS fighters and taken back the town on the Turkish border.


  • June 23, 2015 –(SYRIA) Kurdish fighters announce that they have taken back the town of Ain Issa, located 30 miles north of the ISIS stronghold, Raqqa, a city proclaimed to be the capital of the caliphate. A military base near Ain Issa, which had been occupied by ISIS since last August, is abandoned by the terrorist group the night before the Kurdish forces seize the town.




  • March 17, 2016 – (SYRIA) Kurds declare that a swath of northeastern Syria is now a separate autonomous region under Kurdish control. The claim stirs up controversy, as Syrian and Turkish officials say it goes against the goal of creating a unified country after years of civil war.
  • July 20, 2016 – (TURKEY) Following a failed coup attempt, President Erdogan declares a state of emergency. In the first three months, pro-Kurdish media outlets are shut down, and tens of thousands of civil servants with alleged PKK connections are dismissed or suspended. The purge includes ministers of parliament, military leaders, police, teachers, and mayors, including in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir.
  • September 25, 2017 – (IRAQ) Iraqi Kurds vote in favor of declaring independence from Iraq. More than 92% of the roughly 3 million people voted “yes” to independence.




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