The morality of attacking the Turkey-EU’s refugee deal’s morality

The morality of attacking the Turkey-EU’s refugee deal’s morality

The deal hammered out between Turkey and the European Union to stem the flow of refugees is under severe criticism.

While the deal awaits approval from EU leaders in a summit scheduled this week, opinion leaders from politicians to think tank experts have rushed to criticize it.

The morality of the deal is being questioned. How is it possible for the EU to strike a deal with an authoritarian government, many ask. How can European leaders ignore democratic backpedalling in Turkey at the expense of violating its own values, they say.

That ship has long sailed, however.

All of these opinion leaders have long ignored democratic backpedalling in Turkey. The only reason why they recall the authoritarian policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is because they simply don’t like the deal and with few exceptions, instead of coming up with alternative proposals, they target the democratic deficit in Turkey. 

Alternative is shutting Europe’s doors 

The deal is also being questioned from the legal point of view.

Let’s recall the deal whose details still need to be hammered out.

Turkey will take back migrants that are proved to have crossed illegally to Greece.  In other words, Turkey will be implementing the readmission agreement. That will not be the case for those already on the Greek islands.

For each returned illegal migrant, Europe will take a Syrian refugee from Turkey.

That will not be the case for those already on Greek islands.

The move will ensure safe passage for Syrians rather than have them risk their lives in the dangerous journey over the Aegean. 

Visas requirements for Turks will be lifted. Six billion euros will be made available to Turkey over the course of the next few years to facilitate Turkey’s transition into a real asylum country.

What is the morality and legality of the alternative? Syrian children washing ashore on Turkey’s coasts?

Europe building walls and fences as they tell Turkey “to handle all of the refugees yourself?” Is it much more moral to tell Turkey “to keep your eastern border open but western border closed?” Or “you be the gate keeper but, mind you, we won’t even provide you financial assistance – not because we’re selfish but you are authoritarian?”

The deal might have certain shortcomings, and if approved, there’s no doubt we would encounter many problems in the implementation phases. But in the absence of any other meaningful proposal other than shutting Europe’s doors to refugees, the criticism directed at the deal remains utterly unfair.

Having said that, Turkey will have to act fast in order to secure the successful implementation of the deal. 

France, for instance, is said to have serious reservations about visa-free travel for Turks due to terrorism concerns.

To what degree France is right in its concerns about Turkey is debatable. The attacks perpetrated in France were committed by second-generation migrants who were born in France. They were brainwashed by a radical Islamist ideology whose main exporter remains Saudi Arabia. Ironically, France has just awarded a Saudi prince the legion d’honneur for fighting terror. 

Independent of France’s contradictions, however, the AKP government should prioritize measures against radical Islamists. Just one terror attack committed by a Turkish radical in Europe will end plans for visa-free travel.