“The role of Turkey” 19/11/2018

In the framework of the training seminar “Management of the EU’s external borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”, the 4th session titled “ The role of Turkey ” was successfully held on November 19th, 2018. The seminar was hosted at the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) building in Plaka. Coordinator was Professor Yannis Valinakis President of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence.

In his presentation, the first speaker Mr. Manolis Kostidis, freelance journalist and SKAI Channel correspondent, initially emphasized on Turkey’s positive role in dealing with the migration crisis, characterizing it as “the fort that stops the refugee flow”. Mr. Kostidis cited important data on hospitality and relatively decent living, despite any problems, of more than 4,000,000 refugees and immigrants in Turkey, which is an essential shield of protection for Greece and the EU, in general, from new mass inflows. The speaker stressed the fact that Turkey is a reliable partner in managing this problem despite its internal problems. However, he also referred to the strengthening of Turkey’s negotiating power on the issue and the possible complications in its relations with Greece.

Moving on to the second presentation and after a brief historical overview of the relation between the EU and Turkey, Dr Thanos Dockos, General Manager of ELIAMEP stated that Turkey remains an important strategic partner for the EU. as a destination for capital and products, an energy hub and an embankment for migratory pressures. He also predicted that these pressures will shift further in the near future in the area of Africa.

Mr. Dimitrios Triantafyllou, Associate Professor at Kadir Has University, referred to the same issue but focused on six key observations concerning: (a) the failed attempts to export the European framework due to internal disagreements b) the possibility of communication with Turkey despite significant problems in its accession path c) the need for an alternative plan for Greece should Turkey’s democratization process further halt (d) the impact of the refugee issue on Turkey’s internal social structure and related political affiliations e) the problems of Greece’s asylum system; and f) the religious dimension of the Turkish strategic penetration into the Balkans.

Finally, in his presentation Mr. Angelos Syrigos, Associate Professor of Panteion University, presented detailed statistics that illustrate the significant decline in migration flows following the closure of the Balkan way and the EU – Turkey agreement / statement. In addition, after expressing his concern about the tragic living conditions in the first identification spots on the islands, he proceeded on expressing his wonder on why the number of returns to turkey remains low despite the recent reform of the relevant legislative framework. Moreover, while investigating the causes of this phenomenon, he referred to the negligence and disorganization of the relevant services. Concluding, he noted the recent shift of migration flows to Evros and stressed that if the number of returns to Turkey did not increase “the whole system would collapse”.

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