The horrendous attacks in Brussels last week understandably dominated the news. The slaughter of innocent civilians in yet another of Europe’s capitals has left many questioning how exactly our membership of the EU makes us safer.
It is far too early to fully ascertain how exactly the attacks were carried out, but it is highly likely at least some of the terrorists will have been trained in Syria before returning to Brussels. This will again draw attention to the migrant crisis and the EU’s most recent attempt to resolve it with the assistance of Turkey.
The last fortnight saw the European Union — in a fit of desperation and sheer panic — sign a deal with Turkey which promised to stop the flood of migrants and refugees into Europe. Unfortunately, for the countless number of genuine refugees, this so called “solution” to the migration crisis is nothing of the sort.
Within a few days of being implemented the deal was already close to collapse. The grand promises of returning migrants to Turkey within days is at complete odds with the continuing chaos in Greece.
Meanwhile, the UN’s refugee agency, which has been providing much of the actual support so far, has announced it will suspend some of its operations in protest at the EU’s plans. The Greek government has admitted it is not able to start sending refugees back to Turkey.
The EU’s expectation cash-strapped Greece could get the necessary administration in place by Sunday — less than two days after the agreement was signed — demonstrates the disconnect between the EU’s plans and reality.
The deal is centred on the premise the EU will return all migrants who land in Europe straight back to Turkey. This is supposed to remove the incentive for the migrants and refugees to make the sea crossing in the first place.
In return for Turkey taking them back, the EU has agreed to resettle one refugee directly from the camps in Turkey for every migrant Turkey takes back from Greece. This is hardly going to resolve a huge crisis very fast.
There is still no consensus amongst European nations on where these refugees will be resettled. Several EU countries — Hungary and Slovakia — remain firm in their opposition to any form of mandatory resettlement programme.
This means that under the voluntary arrangement currently in place, there are only 54,000 places currently earmarked for refugees. At the current rate, and with migrants are still arriving on the shores of the Greek islands by the boatload, there will be a shortage of places by the end of April.
Turkey is having a much more profitable time, extracting vast concessions from desperate European leaders. The EU has agreed to pour even larger sums of money into Turkish coffers, doubling its previous €3 billion commitment, with little to no guarantee any of this money will be used for its intended purpose – housing genuine refugees.
More worrying are the promises of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens — who are predominantly Muslim — as a condition of the deal, beginning in June. When similar visa liberalisations were carried out with countries in the Western Balkans in 2010, there was a spike in asylum applications from residents of these countries, particularly Albania and Serbia — countries which the EU considers safe!
Turkey’s 75 million strong population is much larger than those of Serbia and Albania. It would be no surprise to see that once this visa liberalisation has been carried out, many Turks will then travel legally to the EU under this temporary visa system in an effort to eventually claim asylum and to escape an increasingly authoritarian Turkish regime.
Turks will have visa-free access to the Schengen area for 90 days. After this they will be resident illegally — but again, as with the Balkan states, the process of deportation will be long and difficult.
This is before we consider some of the polls coming out of Turkey, which indicate worrying support for ISIS amongst the Turkish population.
Considering the wave of terrorist attacks which are already hitting the country with worrying regularity, it would be madness to open up our borders even further. This so-called ‘solution’ to the migration crisis will merely deepen the problems for many years, and will lead to further destabilisation of the European Union.
The practical failures of this deal are not its only failings: it also serves to destroy any moral standing the EU may claim to have. In the recent years and months President Erdogan has been hell-bent on destroying Turkey’s secular democracy.
This is a regime which has recently silenced dissidents by forcibly seizing control of opposition newspapers and turning them into mouthpieces of the government. It’s a regime which has implicitly, and at times actively, supported ISIS.
It regularly targets its only effective opposition — the Kurdish Peshmerga — with air strikes under the guise of attacking Islamist terror groups. The government turns a blind eye to buying oil from ISIS-controlled territory, allowing their country to be a vital financial lifeline to the terrorist group.
Turkey is a huge country which European leaders — most notably David Cameron — want to join the EU. Erdogan shows utter contempt for the very values the EU is supposed to protect.
Last week he stated: “Democracy, freedom and the rule of law… for us these words have absolutely no value.” The fact European leaders are even willing to consider welcoming such a figure into their ‘club’ reveals both their desperation and their short-sightedness.
The European Union is giving political succour to this dreadful Erdogan’s regime – as a result of its own failures to take control of the migration crisis. Regardless of how ineffective this deal may be, it is morally reprehensible for Britain to be a part of an organisation which is so willing to cave in to the demands of a tyrant, who is willing to support a terrorist organisation to further his own ends as a dictator.
Britain should not be a part of a union which is forced to sacrifice its most basic and intrinsic values of democracy and freedom. There is only one way for the United Kingdom to restore its own moral standing in the world and this is to Get Britain Out of the tyrant-supporting European Union.