Number of Turkish asylum seekers in EU countries hits record high

Number of Turkish asylum seekers in EU countries hits record high

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Number of Turkish asylum seekers in EU countries hits record high

The number of pending Turkish asylum applications to EU countries has exceeded 17,000 following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, hitting a record high for the country since the 1980 military coup.

In 2016, there was almost no demand from Turkey for political asylum, and that such a high figure emerged after the 2016 coup attempt led to uneasiness in the EU, which is already prejudiced about receiving Syrian migrants, a Turkish official has told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Another official said members of FETÖ, which is accused by the Turkish government for having orchestrated the 2016 coup attempt, constituted the majority of these applicants, of whom only some are suspected of having links to the PKK.

The official noted that there are other Turkish citizens who already have residence permits in the EU countries and they have not applied for asylum yet, because they are waiting for judicial processes in Turkey.

According to figures provided by European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the number of pending cases of Turkish applicants by the end of October was 17,332. This number does not display the total number of applications including accepted demands. But EASO said around 44 percent of Turkish applicants were granted refugee status in the past six months till October.

Turks are fifth among the applicants, following Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, and Iranian asylum seekers. Pakistani, Albanian, Venezuelan, Nigerian, and Georgian citizens come after Turkish citizens, according to EASO figures provided until October.

Germany is leading the list of EU countries from which Turkish citizens seek asylum most. German authorities stated that the number of Turkish asylum seekers in their country exceeded 15,000 so far. These asylum seekers also include former soldiers assigned in NATO bases in Europe.

This number for Greece has risen to almost 6,000, according to figures provided by Greek officials. Eight former Turkish soldiers flew to Greece by helicopter on July 16, 2016, a day after the coup attempt. Ankara says the eight soldiers were members of FETÖ. Turkey immediately issued an extradition request, which was eventually declined by the Greek Supreme Court in January 2017, after a series of trials and appeals. Greece granted asylum for three of them.

In July, Norway’s Directorate of Immigration said 245 Turkish nationals have sought shelter in Norway so far in 2018. That compares to a total of 164 Turkish nationals who sought asylum in Norway in 2017.

Frode Forfang, the head of the agency, said on July 5 that “most of them” have been granted protection in the past.

European Union, Turkish Foreign Ministry,