Refugee absorption capacity...

Refugee absorption capacity...

How many refugees are there in Turkey? What was the date when the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey passed the three million mark? Does Turkey have the capacity to absorb them? Will the country’s “open-door” policy continue forever, turning it into a safe haven for refugees?

It is worth discussing the great mistakes that the president and his political clan have committed to aggravate the situation in Syria. Was there any serious difference between the “mild Islamist” Free Syrian Army gang and the rest of Islamist gangs of all colors, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)? 

Of course, there is terrible video footage demonstrating ISIL’s cruelty. But who were those terrorists that butchered the Russian pilot after he was captured live following the downing of the plane by Turkish fire? Whose terrorists are milder and whose are more bloodthirsty? 

The bitter reality is that the entire region is on fire, not only Syria. Nowhere is secure. Millions of people have been compelled to abandon their homes, seeking shelter in Turkey and beyond. In Syria there is an increased threat of disintegration despite all the rhetoric by the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, Turkey and the entire West of their commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria. If everyone is in favor the territorial integrity of that country, why is Syria disintegrating?

The situation in Iraq is no better. As efforts to cleanse ISIL continue and as clashes escalate, the flow of civilians to safer areas, to Turkey and beyond, will continue. With the operation to liberate Mosul intensifying, it is only normal to expect as many as two million more people to join the refugees who have already fled for a secure life. 
Last week there was a panel discussion of Turkish and German journalists at an Antalya hotel hosted by the Turkish Journalists Association and the Kondrad Adeneur Foundation. Turkey and Germany are two of the countries who have generously embraced a very high number of refugees, while many other European countries remain buried deep in xenophobia regarding this humanitarian problem of global magnitude.

The number of refugees in Germany now exceeds one million. Outgoing German President Joachim Gauck was on record last week as emphasizing that his country has only a “finite capacity” to take in refugees.

Germany’s intelligence chief, on the other hand, has sternly warned of further radicalization of right-wing groups. Talking at a dinner on the sidelines of the Antalya panel of Turkish and German journalists, Marian Wendt of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) said it would be suicidal for any German politician to now talk about Germany accepting more Syrian refugees, because the “absorption capacity” of the country has come to an end.

With over one million refugees hosted in German towns, xenophobia and unfortunate criminal acts by some refugees have led to increase prejudices against Muslims. Germany might well have come to a “saturation point” in its capacity to host refugees.

Considering that some European countries are hosting no more than 50 refugees, no one can claim that Germany has done nothing in the face of the worst refugee problem since the Second World War. However, engaging in indecent deals and not even respecting those deals is not the right attitude to escape from further responsibility. 

If Germany’s absorption capacity is filled by one million refugees, how could Turkey be expected to have a much higher absorption capacity? Turkey already hosts well over three million refugees, putting at stake its domestic security and placing an incredible financial burden on the country. Extending six billion euros to Turkey for projects to help the refugees cannot offset Turkey’s growing burden. 

Bribing Turkey – which is ultimately how the Brussels-Ankara refugee deal is now seen - cannot take away responsibility from European countries, who were all comrades in plotting, in alliance with the United States, the so-called Arab Spring of “overnight democracy” to the Middle East and North Africa.

Turkey should not be expected to clean or shoulder the burden of the mess that this has created. After all, Turkey’s own absorption capacity was filled long ago and has long been spilling over.