Ahead of the major migrant crisis talks to be held in Brussels on Monday, the European Union (EU) has announced it is to close off the Balkan route completely and begin the return of economic migrants, but this progress may come at the price of opening the continent’s borders to Turkey.
The flow of migrants from Greece northward through the Balkan and Visegrad nations into the heart of Europe — Germany — is enjoying a temporary hiatus, as borders have been closed and the migrants become stuck in bottleneck Greece. Although the border closures have been repeatedly criticised by leading European figures, the EU has taken this opportunity to mark up the change as a victory, declaring “irregular flows of migrants along the Western Balkans route are coming to an end, this route is now closed” in documents seen by the Kronen Zeitung.
Yet the cost of this minor success is not counted. With Greece now a de-facto concentration camp for migrants drawn to Europe by promises made by Mrs. Merkel but spurned on the whim of political expediency, tens of thousands now sit at the Greek border with Macedonia waiting for the situation to thaw so they can continue north. It is now estimated a further 100,000 migrants will land in Greece this month — and have nowhere to go — precipitating a potentially significant civil emergency in the European nation.
The solutions for these problems, in the eyes of Brussels Eurocrats, lies in non-EU member Turkey. The Eastern nation, led by the resurgent Muslim administration of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is to be asked to take back potentially hundreds of thousands of unsuccessful asylum seekers and economic migrants, and to work to slow the flow leaving Turkey for Greece.
While Turkey could hold the key, for many the price is too high. Turkey has already received enormous amounts of European taxpayers cash in return for very little progress on the migrant crisis, and are now to get a further three billion Euros to act as a safety valve on migrants flowing from the Middle East.
Furthermore, the EU is said to be accelerating plans to open the Schengen borderless zone — already seriously imperilled by the migrant crisis — to Turkey, as a sweetener. To spare the continent the ravages and political embarrassment of hundreds of thousands of immigrants arriving illegally, Brussels may yet give open-border access to 75 million Turks.
Turkey has already attempted to blackmail Europe into giving more concessions — apparently threatening to bus migrants to Bulgaria in November — and many are concerned about Europe becoming so involved in the increasingly autocratic regime. Senior German Green politician Claudia Roth has warned today in an interview with Die Welt that Europe has “entered a fatal dependence on Erdogan”, and the fate of Europe “is now in the hands of this autocrat”.
Remarking on the haste in which the EU moved to work with Erdogan, Ms. Roth remarked: “The EU at all costs wanted to contain the refugee influx from Turkey… the EU has been blackmailed… Turkey is part of the problem”.