Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

Turkey arrests 1,300 migrants and smugglers after EU deal

Turkish coast guards arrested around 1,300 migrants and three suspected smugglers Monday (30 November) in a crackdown operation just a day after the EU and Turkey reached a political deal to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

250 police officers raided eight different places in the region around Ayvacik, in south-western Turkey, from which people try to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The people arrested, mainly Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians, were hiding in forests and on small beaches, Turkish press agencies reported. Police also seized four boats and six motors and found the body of a dead man.

The police operation follows a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels Sunday (29 November) where both parties "agreed to implement the Joint Action Plan which will bring order into migratory flows and help to stem irregular migration".

The EU accepted to pay €3 billion for the refugees living in Turkey and to re-open accession talks, in exchange for a Turkish promise to act against migrant trafficking.

Turkish authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye on migrants gathering on the coast to take boats to Europe and of ignoring organised smuggling.

Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said however that he could not guarantee effective action.

"I wish I could say that the number of migrants will decline, but we cannot say this because we don't know will be going on in Syria," he said after the summit.

Main entry point

The location of Monday's operation is nevertheless a positive signal sent to the EU, as Lesbos is the main entry point for migrants to the EU from Turkey.

According to the latest figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 431,989 people arrived in Lesbos between 1 January and 26 November this year, more than in Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros combined.

Despite the Turkish crackdown, migrants continued to arrive on Lesbos Monday, local authorities said.

“It is clear that the dispatches from the other side have started again,” the regional governor for the Northern Aegean, Christina Kalogirou, was quoted as saying by Kathimerini newspaper.

While the UNHCR said that 3,425 migrants arrived in Greece on Sunday, compared to less than 2,000 on Friday and Saturday, Kathimerini said that more than 5,000 arrived in Lesbos alone in the past two days.

In Brussels, the European Commission said that it will present a report on 15 December over the implementation of the EU-Turkey joint action plan.

The commission will also publish a plan for a voluntary resettlement mechanism for Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.

The idea was floated by Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel and commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at a mini-summit of eight countries on Sunday.

The eight countries - Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden - said they were ready to receive refugees directly from Turkey.

The plan is to "take away some pressure from Turkey in the broader context of re-energized partnership," a commission spokesperson told reporters Monday.

Commission boosts Turkey fund stake to €1bn

EU member states are continuing to discuss how best to finance a Turkey fund worth the €3bn. Under pressure from EU countries, the commission proposed a contribution of €1bn from the EU budget.

France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

French president Emmanuel Macron is pressing for an automated distribution of rescued migrants at sea - but also stands accused of tightening asylum rules in his own country as a response to the far-right.

'Migration' is now 'protecting European way of life'

The upcoming European Commission has shuffled migration policy into a euphemistic new "Protecting our European Way of Life" European commissioner portfolio, headed by former spokesman Margartis Schinas. Some MEPs are not happy.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us