Turkey deal - agreement between the EU and Turkey on migrants

news highlighted On Friday, March 18, 2016, leaders of the countries within the European Union reached an agreement with the aim of reducing the influx of migrants. The agreement is called the Turkey deal because of the agreement between Turkey and the EU countries. In the years prior to the Turkey deal, there was an illegal flow of migrants from people traveling from Turkey to Greece. The crossing went in boats or rickety boats. Greek islands such as Lesbos, Samos and Chios are within sight of the Turkish coast: they lead there as if they were to the gateway to Europe.

Turkey deal

The aim of the Turkey deal is to discourage the illegal flow of migrants and to offer the people who have left their homes behind in the hope of finding a safe and prosperous home in Europe an attractive alternative. The agreement between the EU and Turkey, the country that lies at the gateway to Europe, contains a number of agreements that are translated into concrete procedures on how to deal with illegal migrants and who pays what.


People who enter Greece illegally from Turkey after March 20, 2016, will be sent back to Turkey. The European Union pays for this return procedure. These are illegal immigrants who have not applied for asylum in Greece and wish to use the country as a transit country or whose asylum application has been declared inadmissible. A separate arrangement applies to Syrians. They are returned to Turkey and are recognized as refugees there. According to the agreement, Syrians have a temporary protected status. They are therefore not sent back to their own country that they are fleeing due to the terror of IS.

Migrants from countries other than Syria

Not only do migrants from Syria come to the Greek islands illegally. They also come from Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya. These nationalities can attain protected status in Turkey, but the road to it goes through a complex procedure. If they come from Turkey, they can be sent back to that country because the EU regards Turkey as a safe country. This group is worrying because there are doubtful cases that are not safe in Turkey. This applies, for example, to Kurds. This Turkish minority could be eligible for asylum in Europe. It takes a lot of time to screen that and to identify those people.

New refugees

The refugees who arrived on the Greek islands prior to the signing of the Turkey deal are not included by Turkey. Turkey only includes people who entered Greece after March 20, 2016. The Greek islands themselves must bring the people who arrived by boat from Turkey before that date but to the Greek mainland, says Turkey. Nothing specific is written about this in the Turkey deal. Greece must distribute these people among the EU countries via a distribution key. Immediately after the deal was closed, the procedure was put in place to prevent people from quickly crossing the road in order to fall under the 'old regime'. Greece must arrange the reception, registration and asylum procedure.

Individual treatment

Everyone who arrives on the coast of Lesvos, Chios or Samos or any Greek island is entitled to individual treatment. No groups or boats are returned. Each migrant is heard and assessed separately. To assess whether a migrant is entitled to asylum, judges, migration officials, aid workers and interpreters have been appointed. The officials are assisted by Turkish officials, so that the lines of communication are short. Dutch employees of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) also help their Greek colleagues. The aim is to complete the procedure quickly, with a minimum of five days. In practice, many migrants have to wait a long time and that causes unrest in the refugee camps.

Moria on Lesvos

How does the procedure in a camp work? Camp Moria on Lesvos is home to people of various nationalities, for example Syrians, Pakistanis, Bengali, Nepalese, North Africans, Congolese, Dominicans, Afghans, Iraqis and Eritreans. They arrive hundreds of at a time on the beaches of the island, from Turkey. There they are received in a large tent in the camp and receive blankets and a meal. They are then registered and checked in groups of nine by a screener, together with an interpreter. Their identity and nationality are determined and a documentary investigation follows, if they have documents with them. This is done by a so-called ALDO (Advanced Level Document Official).


The Dutch IND helps with this. Fingerprints are still being taken and the Greek police, Hellenic Police, are putting the personal data in their system. The fake identity cards, fake driving licenses and falsified birth documents are fished out. The Greeks are not only assisted by the IND, but also by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, soldiers, police and employees of DT&V, Repatriation & Departure Service. The UNHCR is present for overall coordination.


The EU picks up a Syrian for every Syrian who takes Turkey back. At the time of the entry into force of the Turkey deal, Turkey already houses 2.7 million Syrian refugees. The deal has a ceiling of 72,000 people. This number corresponds to agreements within the EU on 'migration quotas'. The agreement only concerns Syrians, so that other nationalities cannot enter Europe legally via the Greek islands.

Legal migration

As soon as so many migrants no longer come to Greece, the EU countries can take refugees from Turkey on a voluntary basis. This airlift for legal migrants should discourage illegal migration and a boat ride to cross the Aegean Sea.

Economic migrants

Economic migrants who have come from Turkey to the Greek islands are not covered by the Turkey deal. They also have hardly any chance of asylum in Europe and must return to Turkey in all cases. This is a difficult process. Turkey would rather not take Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans back.

Visa requirement

The Turkey deal also provided for an accelerated abolition of the visa requirement for Turks within the EU. That would be ready in October 2016, but President Erdogan of Turkey was keen to see it accelerated as part of the Turkey deal. That didn't happen. The EU only wants visa liberalization if Turkey meets all 72 criteria and has its customs system in order. Stumbling block are the Turkish anti-terror laws. The EU finds the Turkish definition of terrorism too broad, which means that people can be arrested too easily. Turkey's anti-terror laws must be adjusted to European standards, the EU believes, but Erdogan is not going to do that.

6 billion euros

The EU has set aside € 6 billion to shape care in Turkey, with secure housing, education and care. Three billion is for improving refugee reception within Turkey. Each project must be judged by itself by the EU, and therefore the payment is slow. The money must be spent well and there are doubts about whether the money always ends up well and is used properly. Turkey would mainly work for highly educated and healthy Syrians, so that poor people and those who need care have a check. If Turkey has spent the first 3 billion well, the EU wants to pay another 3 billion in 2018.

EU membership

Part of the deal was also to accelerate talks about EU membership of Turkey. There are still a few hooks on that membership, not least because of the developments in Turkey after a coup attempt in July of 2016. Erdogan subsequently introduced numerous undemocratic measures and arrested many people. Cyprus is also difficult about Turkish accession to the EU. That island only agrees once the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus has been resolved.

Safe zones

Turkey wants to establish safe zones in Syria and the EU promises to support this in the Turkey deal. The safe zones must improve humanitarian conditions within Syria. EU leaders are apprehensive about not helping Turkey in the internal fight against the Kurds. In August 2016, Turkish tanks crossed the border and entered northern Syria.

New routes

Closing the route via the Aegean Sea entails the danger that new routes will be created via, for example, Bulgaria. Eastern European countries therefore install fences along the border to stop migrants. This is a problem outside of the Turkey deal.

Deal failure

August 31, 2016

News hour show images of the island of Chios on television. It is no different on Samos and Lesbos. After the coup, Turkish officials and police left the island and it takes months before a procedure is completed. There is talk of a 'failure' of the Turkey deal and a 'shame' for Europe, which cannot offer decent shelter to the people. The failure is also in Turkey, which, in the time following the coup d'état of 15 July 2016 and the many arrests that followed, cannot be considered a 'safe country'. Certainly not for Kurdish refugees. Greece seems to be the Australia of Europe, an island where the migrants stay and where they stay, because they cannot continue. The Greek islands are bordered by water and the migrants cannot leave by plane. The islands have become prisons and Greece, Europe and Turkey are not doing enough to solve that.


a. Lesbos
B. Moria refugee camp
C.. Chios
D. Samos
E. Turkey
F. Aegean Sea

Video: European migrant crisis: UN questions EU-Turkey deal (February 2020).

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