He will also be a dictator for many or perhaps a great politician for a few but the European Commission knows perfectly well that with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey we must come to terms if, in some way, we want to put the phenomenon of migrants under control.
And in fact the European Commission has proposed to offer 3,000 million euros to Turkey to renew the pact that helps to keep four million Syrian refugees on Turkish soil.
The multimillion-dollar offer to the government will be analyzed today at the European summit in Brussels. Since the onset of the migration crisis in 2015, 7,400 million euros have been given, expecting to reach over 10,000 million by 2024.
The increase in aid to Turkey coincides with the EU’s push to increase collaboration between the countries of origin and transit of irregular migration. And it comes a few weeks after Morocco caused a severe and sudden crisis at Ceuta’s European border allowing thousands of people to leave without any control.
If this proposal were accepted, Turkey would receive 3,000 million and Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, 2,200 million. The Commission is convinced that the sums “can meet the most urgent needs of refugees and host communities, particularly in health services and in ‘ education, social protection, skills development and job creation ”.
The document states that Turkey hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, supported in part with the European instrument for refugees in Turkey, launched in 2016 and endowed with 6,000 million euros.
This instrument, which has already disbursed 4,100 million euros, covers the period 2016-2019 and the Turkish government has been asking for an extension for months. And Ankara is putting pressure on loosening border controls. In January and February 2020, irregular arrivals to Greece from Turkey increased by 49% and 22% respectively. In March, Turkish authorities announced that they no longer controlled the borders, causing a wave of 25,000 refugees to settle near Greek territory within days.
The EU has responded to the challenge by deploying forces from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to help Turkish authorities unceremoniously protect the borders of their territory. The sudden crisis subsided. Ankara has since tempered its stance, not only for the European offer but also in response to the geostrategic realignment that triggered the arrival of President Joe Biden in the White House to replace Donald Trump. But Erdogan’s country always has the “knife on the side of the handle” and puts pressure on Europe which still remains substantially divided.