Turkey and European Army Yüksel Söylemez – 20 March 2001

Turkey and European Army

Yüksel Söylemez – 20 March 2001

Will there be an European Army tomorrow or the day after? Can it be functional without Turkish involvement? Can Turkey be left out of the process? And the question of what may the consequences be must be asked for a careful assessment.

European Security and Defence Arrangements (ESDI) are undergoing a transformation of historic proportions. The predominant trends in Europe indicate a dangerous direction of a Europe inevitably de-coupled from the USA. A future Europe, independent in its security and independent in defence from across the Atlantic. The unconvincing rhetoric by some European leaders intends to assure us that this is all about strengthening NATO and the Transatlantik link. But in reality the ESDI project on the table aims to transfer many of the features of NATO over to the EU. It will be interesting to see how the Bush administration will wake up and respond to ESDI process, in the aftermath of the Clinton approach of “laissez faire, laissez passer” attitude towards ESDI.

As to how this project will effect Europe, it seems that institutional separatism has reached a critical stage and we are surely at a crossroads. In case various national and institutional interests are not converged, we will be faced with an exclusive arrangement which is about to be created. Then the question is, will such a exclusive arrangement be workable? Will it be effective?

Let us not for a moment forget, that NATO and EU share the common strategic interests and face the same challenges. However, the tendency to exclusivity is unfortunately there. There are those in Europe who advocate the creation of an independent system. This will be de-coupling from NATO and this will lead to a serious rift amongst allies, which is self defeating.

Turkey is deeply concerned because of its geographic location, because of her close proximity to the existing and potential crisis areas. Consequently what is formulated for the security of Europe and the arrangements made in that respect are of great importance for Turkey. It is no exaggeration to state that Turkey’s vital security interests are at stake in ESDI project.

We the European allies are in the same boat. This boat is destined for the enhancement and defence of European security. But unfortunately our repeated appeals and serious warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The ESDI/CESDP process has serious implications for the entire Alliance. This process should enhance the security of all Allies. In this regard the NATO Washington summit decisions must be upheld. These decisions stipulated that all European allies should be able to participate in this process.
Is it conceivable that in a non-military crises management, no role is foreseen for non-EU member allies like Turkey, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic etc?

This may be a “ sui generis” situation. If this is the case, a “sui generis” solution must be found. Such a “sui generis” solution was the case in the Western European Union, which was workable and satisfactory. The redundant WEU was buried to prepare the birth to a baby European Army.
Turkey’s relationship with leading EU countries like Germany and France is based on strategic partnership. To exclude Turkey from European crises management situations defeats all strategic and political logic.

What Turkey demands and quite rightly is to be treated fairly and in an equitable manner concerning the developing process ESDI/CESDP.

If the EU persists in hiding behind institutional pretexts and excludes an ally like Turkey from the process, then the new arrangements vis-à-vis European Security may inevitable have undesirable side-effects. It is for European leaders to decide if it is in their interest to leave Turkey in or out of these new arrangements. This will be a political call that will either way have very significant repercussions for the future of Europe, its security and defence.

Visits: 187

A second ‘non-dialogue policy with the EU?’ Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 20 November 2000, Turkish Daily News

A second ‘non-dialogue policy with the EU?’

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 20 November 2000, Turkish Daily News

Turkey is heading with great political speed for another “non-dialogue” with the European Union. In particular, Turkish public opinion is very angry about the decision of the European Parliament to accept the decision that Turkey should recognize the so-called Armenian Bill and that Cyprus has become another political criteria for EU-membership. Also, some modifications of Turkey’s borders and Kurdish television and radio broadcasting were other issues which created heavy debates among political leaders. Therefore, the good atmosphere which was achieved in Helsinki has been spoiled. Was such a situation expected before the intergovernmental conference? No doubt those who are against Turkish membership of the EU and those who are against EU-membership in Turkey made their points and they made obvious, at least for the moment, what they wanted: the continuation of the non-dialogue.

The main differences between Turkey and the EU will remain the Cyprus, Armenian and Kurdish issues. But why at the last minute make the European Parliament put those two critical issues into the Morillion Report and create such anger? Even Morillion did not accept this change and resigned. Is this not then a fait accompli towards Turkey? Also, the Cyprus question suddenly becomes another political criteria. What is the real purpose behind this? Do they think that Turkey can accept such moves? It seems neither diplomatically, nor politically correct behavior by the European Parliament. Then, the discussions last week centered again on how the EU is not reliable: these have one aim, to destroy Turkey, and get Turkey away from the EU. Even one of the most important criticisms came by the chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, Kamran Inan, when he said, concerning Cyprus, “They [the EU] want to get Cyprus into the EU because one part of the island belongs to their religion and culture,” indicating Southern Cyprus.

For Turkey, in the words of Ambassador Volkan Vural, Cyprus is a matter of political dialogue and Turkey will further support U.N. Secretary General Cofi Annan in his search for dialogue, but certainly neither Annan nor the EU is a referee in this issue. Cyprus is irrelevant for Turkey’s national program which will be submitted to the EU. Therefore, the Greek government put it in the “political criteria,” and in the letter to Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit by Finland’s Prime Minister before the Helsinki summit. Accordingly it did not contain anything. Now, all this happens and the Turkish government is upset. Then, like Cyprus, they did not expect the so-called Armenian genocide to be accepted by the European Parliament. It gave a signal to all other national parliaments in Europe, as indicated by the French and Italian parliaments’ decisions. It is expected that the Scandinavian parliaments will follow suit. Another important development happened on Friday when Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind visited Turkey for four hours and told her counterpart Ismail Cem that Kurdish education must be started and that just making a few television and radio broadcasts will not be enough. As is known, Sweden will take the EU term presidency in January 2001 and no doubt Sweden will create more headaches for Turkey.

It is not so important whether Turkey will accept those “unofficial political criteria” by the EU or not. The real question remains whether Turkey will keep its enthusiasm for EU membership. Recent developments show that Turkey is losing its hope for a new dynamic and also its European vision. The modernization process in Turkey will be interrupted again if there is another “second non-dialogue policy,” and this time it will be longer. Then, no political party can support closer EU relations if the EU continues to act in such a way that the Turkish nation is degraded and demoralized. A new, in the words of Cem Duna, “Luxembourg syndrome” is emerging. This time with far more negative consequences for each side. For those who are do not want to see Turkey in the EU it is a great success; but for those who look forward to union membership it must bring great disappointment and resignation.

What will happen then? No doubt, it will not be the end of the world. Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said that Turkey can renounce EU membership and that Turkey would not be seen to accept anything the EU requires of it. Maybe he is now the only political leader who does not have it easy. Two political leaders in the coalition, Prime Minister Ecevit and Deputy Prime Minister Bahceli, stated long ago that, as concerns the Cyprus and Ocalan issues, Turkey has done as much as it can. Now, as a result, Turkish nationalism will experience another rise and anti-EU forces will win another battle, if not the war. The EU is also making it difficult for Mesut Yilmaz, who seems determined to get into the EU. But Foreign Minister Cem is now under very strong pressure because all his diplomatic moves seem like trees without fruit. Now, the Aegean question has raised another political criterion. This means that his sincere policy towards Greece became another disappointment for Cem, but a success for Papandreou.

Far from being a highway for Turkey the EU road map seems rather like a city street full of barriers. The sincerity of the EU and EU institutions is called into question again and membership seems unreachable. It is a pity that the good atmosphere has lasted only one year. The tension between the EU and Turkey has just started and a political solution is not there. Certainly, it will be a cold winter for both sides despite the fact that in Ankara it is as sunny as ever.

Visits: 150

Dealing with refugee flows in Austrıa – a crisis of policy?

images (1)Dealing with refugee flows in Austria – a crisis of policy?

 Sherin Gharib

Introduction:

The last months were characterized by a large influx of refugees from the Middle East to Europe. Most of the refugees arriving in European countries stem from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The number of first time asylum seekers in the second quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter in 2014 increased by 85% (EUROSTAT: Quarterly report September 2015). While refugees were leaving everything behind and risking their lives in hope of escaping from war and political instability, the European Union in general and Austria in particular were extremely overburdened with dealing with a constantly growing number of incoming refugees. Although the importance of finding a common EU strategy and developing a fair Burden-Sharing became more and more evident, a consensus between the EU Member States could not be reached. The EU’s policy to deal with the refugee crisis has completely failed.

Not only did the EU’s policy fail, but also the Austrian government was not able to deal with the crisis. Austria received thousands of refugees per day, most of them wanting to continue their journey to Germany, Sweden or to another European country. For those who have chosen to apply for asylum in Austria no appropriate support has been offered, forcing thousands of refugees to sleep in the streets or tents. In order to prevent an intensification of the humanitarian crisis, the Austrian civil society played a central role in providing support for the exhausted refugees. Civil society organizations such as the Austrian Red Cross and especially large numbers of volunteers have provided food, clothes as well as first aid. Moreover, besides assistance in regard to basic needs, they have given a feeling of being welcome. Thousands of volunteers have worked at the borders in “Nickelsdorf” and “Spielfeld”, and at the “Westbahnhof” and “Hauptbahnhof” in Vienna as well as at the train station in Salzburg and at various reception centers. Without their work, the so called “refugee crisis” would have turned into a “humanitarian crisis” of a much larger scale.

 

This paper deals with Europe’s response to the current refugee crisis in general, and with Austria’s policy towards the refugee issue in particular. Its main focus lies on the role of civil society and the inabilities of the state agencies to deal with this humanitarian crisis. It does so by analyzing the situation in the Traiskirchen refugee camp and the fight between local governments and the federal government in regard to the distribution of refugees in the country. Both examples serve as examples for the state’s failed refugee policy. The paper first gives an overview of refugee flows in Europe. In a second stage the article sets the current refugee crisis into context with the broader debates on the integration of migrants.  In a last step the engagement of the civil society is analyzed.

The recent refugee crisis and asylum applications in Austria

The year 2015 was characterized by an immense increase of refugee flows into Europe. In comparison to the second quarter of 2015 the number of first time asylum seekers in Europe in the same quarter increased by 85%. The number has reached 213 200. (EUROSTAT: Quarterly report September 2015)

According to EUROSTAT the three largest asylum seeker communities in the EU came from Syria, Iraq and Albania (EUROSTAT: Quarterly report September 2015).

In the second quarter of 2015 most Syrian refugees were registered in Germany, followed by Hungary, Austria and Sweden. As for the Afghanis about half per cent were seeking asylum protection in Hungary, and about 90% of the Albanians applied for asylum in Germany. In ten EU-Member States Syrians made up the main citizenship of asylum applicants. (EUROSTAT: Quarterly report September 2015).

 

Concerning Austria in the second quarter of 2015 the third largest absolute increase of asylum application in the EU was recorded. (EUROSTAT: Quarterly report September 2015). In the period January until September 2015 Austria’s asylum seekers were mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. (BMI: Vorläufige Asylstatistik September 2015).

 

The way to Europe – A choice between bad and worse

As referred above Austria’s asylum seekers mostly have their origin in the Middle East. The Middle East is currently experiencing a dark period characterized by conflicts, unstable regimes and economic downturn.  An ending of Syria’s four year lasting internal conflict is currently not in sight, while military confrontation is continuing. Syrian refugees make up about 4 million people, most of them living in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Iraq, in Egypt as well as in other Northern African States. (UNHCR: Press Release: 09/07/2015). The limited livelihood opportunities lead to a feeling of insecurity and loss of future perspectives. Many suffer from high costs of living and restricted access to legal employment. In many cases savings are already spent and refugees have difficulties in covering their basic needs. Due to the lack of access to legal work, they are forced to resort to informal employment risking exploitation or they have to work in unsafe conditions. In Jordan for example working illegally can lead to be returned to a camp. In Lebanon, refugees have to sign and declare not to work when renewing their residency status. Aid programmes face chronic financial cut-backs. The food aid cuts, which affect thousands of refugees, are a central reason for leaving the country. Difficult conditions in refugee camps force Syrians to beg and to make use of child labor and marriages in a young age. (UNHCR: EuropePress briefing by Adrian Edwards: 2015). The lack of access to healthcare and limited opportunities of education further intensify the situation. Migration is considered “as the key to their physical safety”. (UNHCR: EuropePress briefing by Adrian Edwards: 2015). Iraq and Afghanistan are still characterized by political instability leaving the population without any future perspectives. Due to limited alternative possibilities to reach the EU, refugees are pushed into illegality and forced to turn to smugglers.

 

The end of Dublin regulations?

According to the Dublin regulations the state where a refugee enters EU territory first is responsible for the asylum procedure. The consequence is that the EU external border countries are overwhelmed with large numbers of refugees. They are not able to offer full services to refugees, can’t fulfill their duty in asylum procedures and don’t feel responsible to handle the refugee problem alone. In the case of Greece for example, the European Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Human Rights declared that conditions for refugees are inhuman and therefore Dublin regulations are not to be implemented there. (Guild et al: 2015. p. 4). In fact the distribution of asylum seekers across the EU is very uneven. Especially this crisis showed that the EU is in a need of a new system with far reception quotas for asylum seekers.

The Dublin system has to be reconsidered. It is necessary to ensure that obligations for the reception of refugees are fulfilled. The EU Member States have to agree on a fair distribution key. Therefore new measures by the EU are necessary. (Guild et. Al: 2015). It is important to find a common European response to meet the EU’s collective obligations in international law, according to the EU legal order, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as the EU Treaties and legislation. European interior ministers met on September the 14th 2015 to discuss the refugee crisis and to find ways out. But it remains a challenge to reach a common strategy – the suggestion to relocate 120 000 asylum-seekers from Greece, Hungary, and Italy to other Member States under a quota system was not approved. Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland as well as Hungary belong to the most skeptical EU-Member States in terms of a quota system. (Guild et al: 2015).

 

Austria’s history with migration and the political discourse  

Austria has a long history concerning migration flows, which can be traced back to the Habsburg Empire. In the 1960s and 1970s the dominant form of migration in Austria was the so called “guest-worker” migration. Temporarily labor migrants were recruited in order to fulfil the national labor needs. (UNHCR: October 2013)

Dealing with refugee flows is nothing new for Austria: between 1989 and 1993 Austria received huge numbers of refugees, who fled from the Yugoslav war. These refugees were given permanent status. (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p.42). However, the process to be granted refugee status can take several years. Their rights during this period are extremely limited and often people are forced to return back to their origin countries after spending years in Austria. (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p.42). Asylum seekers for example have restricted access to social rights and do not benefit from labor or welfare policies. (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p. 40/41)

How to integrate these people into society was long time not dealt with.  Only within the last recent years, integration has become a priority for the Austrian government. It was firstly institutionalized by the creation of the State Secretariat for Integration within the Ministry of Interior in 2011, and became in 2014 a part of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, headed by the Federal Foreign and Integration Minister, Sebastian Kurz. In fact immigrant integration belongs to one of the most controversial topics in Austria. It is mainly focusing on language acquisition and civic education, as well as the sharing of values and norms. (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p. 40/41) Due to ethnic differences and socio-economic marginalization of migrants “anti-foreigner sentiments among the population reinforced and contributed to the perception that there was an integration problem.” (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p. 46). Politically this also led to the rise of right parties, which were successful in promoting xenophobia among the population.

In the 1990s therefore a negative shift in the political perception of asylum was recorded. It was claimed that Austria has reached its receiving capacities. Asylum seekers were associated with criminality and the exploitation of the welfare state. At this time also the terms “bogus asylum seeker” as well as “economic refugee” occurred. (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p. 46).

Integration was often used in order to justify restrictive legislation by arguing that migrants and asylum seekers are not enough integrated. The Slogan “Integration vor Neuzuzug” (Integration before new immigration) of the coalition government between the far-right wing party FPÖ and the centre-right party ÖVP made the negative discourse evident. (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p. 46). A lack of integration has been often connected with religion, in particular with Islam. Muslims are often “targeted by a rhetoric stressing that they will not comply with the Austrian value system.” (Mourão Permoser / Rosenberger: 2012. p. 46).

 

A very similar discourse is taking place in connection with Europe’s current refugee crisis. Right wing parties highlight the fact that refugees are mainly arriving from Middle Eastern countries and have different traditions, religion and values. According to right wing parties they would be difficult to integrate. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for example decided to close the Hungarian borders to Serbia and Croatia in order to reduce the number of refugees entering Hungary. (Tirone / Petrakis: 2015) Concerns that refugees would bring in diseases, crime and terrorism are constantly increasing and lead to violent acts against migrants and refugees in various countries. Although, in Austria violent attacks on refugees have not been recorded so far, the rhetoric of “activists”, anti-immigration initiatives and local platforms as well as the discourse of right-wing parties is getting more and more xenophobic and islamophobic.

 

At the same time, debates on the motivations of refugees have gained ground. Such discourses divide refugees into humanitarian ones who have fled war and violence and economic ones who are “just” seeking better living conditions. Austrian’s Integration Minister Kurz highlights that the European Union is in need of securing the EU’s external borders. He also distinguishes between “humanitarian” and “economic refugee” arguing that “economic refugees”, cannot be accepted. On the 19th of November he presented a plan with 50 priorities for integrating persons granted asylum. The central elements are language acquisition, entry to the labor market as well as the determination of values. (Austrian Integration Fund). This is being to be achieved by obligatory workshops dealing with European values. (Die Presse: 4 November 2015).

 

Traiskirchen” as an example for a failed refugee policy:

While the political rhetoric has focused on the “otherness” of refuges and the problems they might cause for security and the labor market or on how to secure and control borders, the state has largely failed to provide humanitarian assistance.

This has been particularly evident in the Traiskirchen refugee center. The camp outside Vienna is run by the private Swiss firm ORS. In 1956, Traiskirchen served as a place of humanitarian services to welcome refugees from the Hungarian Revolution. It is now the biggest refugee camp in the country. It made headlines in media because of the poor care offered for refugees and the inhuman accommodation and sanitary conditions.  In the summer of 2015 at the height of the crisis, refugees were forced to sleep under the sky or in tents that were neither rain nor wind proof. According to a report of Amnesty International, asylum seekers were facing insufficient medical care, as well as unhygienic conditions in an overcrowded camp. Many complained about no access to sanitary facilities and the lack of security within the camp. In light of the state’s failure to provide basic needs, individual volunteers and civil society organizations have stepped in. (Al-Jazeera: 2015, Amnesty International: 2015).

Traiskirchen represents just one among many other examples of reception centres where state authorities failed to provide adequate care and assistance.

In addition to the situation, the distribution of asylum seekers within the country hardly functioned. The federal states have failed to take in their allotted quota of asylum seekers.  Vienna represented the only federal state that accepted more asylum seekers than its national quota requires. (Der Standard: 2015) A constitutional amendment that gives the federal government the right to create accommodation centres for asylum seekers without the permission of states and municipalities, is with no doubt a positive development in regard to the accommodation of asylum seekers.  However, it does not necessarily placate the heated public discourse on their integration.

The involvement of the civil society:

Undoubtedly, the Austrian government was absolutely overwhelmed with the huge migrant flows. Thousands of refugees entered the country but wanted to continue travelling to Germany, Sweden or to another destination. This caused an extreme overstraining at the Austrian-Hungarian borders in “Nickelsdorf” as well as at the Austrian-Slovenian borders in “Spielfeld.” While state authorities seemed to be in a state of shock and hardly able to react to the humanitarian dimension of the crisis, civil society played a central rule and and responded immediately to the need of assistance for refugees.

Volunteers, civil society organisations, the Austrian Federal Railways, supported police and the Austrian Armed Forces in their work at the Austrian borders.  They have been an indispensable part of the humanitarian work made at the borders. Refugees could pass the borders freely and were brought by buses to the train stations “Westbahnhof” and “Hauptbahnhof” in Vienna. Refugees with enough money went by taxis. (UNHCR: 25 September 2015). The assistance was mainly managed by the Austrian Red Cross.

At the train stations volunteers offered food, hygienic articles and clothes. While at Westbahnhof the Austrian Red Cross took the organisation and coordination, at Hauptbahnhof a platform named “Train of hope” emerged. It was an ad-hoc creation of volunteers. Its aim is to offer supply (food, material donations) as well as information about the onward journey. Volunteers and translators are recruited through social media. Train of hope considers providing help as its obligation, especially because the European governments failed in handling the situation. (Train of hope). Due to its efforts “Train of Hope” was nominated by the Austrian League for Human Rights for the Human Rights Price 2015. (Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte).

 

These are not the only positive examples of civil society humanitarian assistance. There are many initiatives taking place, one of them is “Flüchtlinge Willkommen (Refugees Welcome)”, which is an initiative inviting asylum seekers and refugees to stay in people’s spare rooms instead of in mass accommodation centres. (French: 2015). “Refugess Welcome” also organized a concert where more than 150.00 people participated in order to show their solidarity with refugees.

Other initiatives include leisure activities together with refugees or free language course provided by volunteers.

Conclusion

The EU in general and Austria in particular are facing big challenges as regards to the current refugee flows. In the short and middle term view, solutions for the political instability in the Middle East are not in sight. The agreement of the 29th of November 2015 on migration between the EU and Turkey aims at gaining a win-win situation: Turkey would take steps to reduce the migration flows to Europe, while the EU facilitates the entering of Turkish citizens in the EU and provides more financial aid for refugees in Turkey. However, these agreed measures would not really reduce the humanitarian crisis taking place; they would only delocalize it outside Europe.

The international community has to react on the current developments by firstly finding diplomatic solutions for the crisis and the unrest in the Middle East and secondly by integrating the refugees who have already entered Europe. The EU Member States have to find a common strategy regarding the distribution of refugees. They cannot escape any longer from their responsibility to react to the current migrant flows. It became evident that the Dublin regulations are no longer realizable. Providing possibilities to apply for asylum in the origin countries would enable safe journeys to Europe and prevent refugees from risking their lives. This would also be an effective measure against smugglers.

Austria as well has to deal with its asylum seekers by providing them with the necessary care. The quick and professional engagement of civil society organizations and volunteers prevented a humanitarian crisis in Austria. However, in a long term view the assistance by volunteers is likely to decrease. The government has to act, and to provide better conditions in reception centers. Traiskirchen was and still is an example for a problematic refugee policy. Austria’s federal states have to meet their obligations in terms of fulfilling the refugee-reception quotas and the federal government has to insist on that.

One of Austria’s biggest challenges will be to fight xenophobia. At the latest after the attacks in Paris 2015, where two refugees were accused to be involved, fear towards refugees has increased. However, statistics show that criminality by refugees in 2014 only made out 2% of the total criminality in Austria. (News: 2015). Thus, many fears are groundless. This has to be stronger communicated. As described above, there are also many positive examples concerning interaction between the local population and refugees.

Although the planned “values workshops” for asylum seekers by the Foreign and Integration Minister Kurz are questionable, the 50-points plan to integrate persons granted asylum and the focus on language and labor are good steps forward.

 

 

Bibliography:

Al-Jazeera: “In Austria, refugees voice frustration at overcrowded camps.” 18 September 2015.  http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america tonight/articles/2015/9/18/austria-syria-refugees-frustration-overcrowded-camps.html. 30/11/2015.

 

Amnesty International: „Quo Vadis Austria: Die Situation in Traiskirchen darf nicht die Zukunft der Flüchtlingsbetreuung in Österreich werden.“ 14.08.2015.

https://www.amnesty.at/de/view/files/download/showDownload/?tool=12&feld=download&sprach_connect=332

 

Angenendt, Steffen / Engler, Marcus / Schneider, Jan: “European Refugee Policy. Pathways to Fairer Burden-Sharing.” SWP Comments 2013/C 36. November 2013.

 

Angenendt, Steffen: Refugees: The EU needs fair refugee reception quotas, German expert says. Interview by Dagmar Breitenbach, in: Deutsche Welle. 15.04.2015.

 

Austrian Integration Fund: „Neu: 50 Punkte-Plan zur Integration vorgestellt.“ http://www.integrationsfonds.at/news/detail/article/neu-50-punkte-plan-zur-integration-vorgestellt/. 30/11/2015.

 

Bundesministerium für Inneres (BMI): „Vorläufige Asylstatistik September 2015.“ 2015.

 

Der Standard: „Flüchtlingsquartiere: Bessere Länderquoten dank Neuberechnung.“ 7 October 2015. http://derstandard.at/2000023094211/Fluechtlingsquartiere-Bessere-Laenderquoten-dank-Neuberechnung. 30/11/2015.

 

Die Presse: „Flüchtlinge: Kurz will verpflichtende Werteschulung“. 4 November 2015. http://diepresse.com/home/politik/innenpolitik/4859251/Fluchtlinge_Kurz-will-verpflichtende-Werteschulung. 30/11/2015.

 

EUROSTAT News release: 163/2015: 18 September 2015

 

EUROSTAT: Quarterly report September 2015: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_quarterly_report.

 

French, Maddy: “Why Austrians are opening their homes to refugees.” Al Jazeera. 19 July 2015.  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/07/austrians-opening-homes-refugees-150714140340807.html. 30/11/2015.

 

Guild, Elspeth / Costello, Cathryn / Garlick, Madeline / Moreno-Lax, Violeta: “The 2015 Refugee Crisis in the European Union: 2015” CEPS Policy Brief. No. 332, September 2015.

 

Meyer, Sarah / Rosenberger, Sieglinde (2015): Just a Shadow? The Role of Radical Right Parties in the Politicization of Immigration, 1995 – 2009, in: Politics and Governance , Vol. 3, No 2 (2015), p. 1 – 17.

 

Mourão Permoser, Julia / Rosenberger, Sieglinde (2012). “Integration Policy in Austria.” In: International Approaches to Integration and Inclusion. J. Frideres and J. Biles (eds.). Montreal/Kingston, McGill-Queens University Press.

 

News: „Nicht Kriminalität von sondern gegen Flüchtlinge steigt“. 27 November 2015 http://www.news.at/a/fluechtlinge-kriminalitaet-oesterreich. 30/11/2015.

 

Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte: http://www.liga.or.at/2015/11/26/menschenrechtspreis-2015/. 30/11/2015.

 

Tirone, Jonathan and Petrakis, Maria: Europe’s Refugee Crisis. 19 November 2015. http://www.bloombergview.com/quicktake/europe-refugees. 30/11/2015.

 

Train of hope: http://www.trainofhope.at/home/wer-wir-sind/). 30/11/2015.

 

UNHCR: “Women and children trek exhaustedly into Austrian town of Nickelsdorf to warm welcome” News Stories, 25 September 2015. http://www.unhcr.org/560573886.html). 30/11/2015.

 

UNHCR: Facilitators and Barriers: Refugee Integration in Austria. October 2013. https://fluechtlingsdienst.diakonie.at/sites/default/files/unhcr-rice-austria-en_web.pdf.

 

UNHCR: Seven factors behind movement of Syrian refugees to EuropePress briefing, on 25 September 2015, by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards. http://www.unhcr.org/560523f26.html). 30/11/2015.

 

UNHCR: Total number of Syrian refugees exceeds four million for first time. Press Releases, 9 July 2015. http://www.unhcr.org/559d67d46.html. 30/11/2015.

 

Welz, Judith / Winkler, Jakob (2014): “Abschiebepolitik im Spannungsfeld des liberal-demokratischen Paradoxons: Ermessensspielräume in asylrechtlichen Ausweisungsentscheidungen” In: ÖZP 2/2014.

 

Wimmen, Heiko: “Sleepwalking in Brussels”. In: Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz – Balkans in Europe Policy Blog, 29.10.2015.

Visits: 223

The 2015 Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Future of Euro-Mediterranean Relationships

The 2015 Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy

and the Future of Euro-Mediterranean Relationships

 

Prof. Dr. Erwan Lannon, Ghent University

 

2015 has put once again the Mediterranean on the top of the international agenda. The deepening of the migratory crisis, the direct military intervention of the Russian Federation in Syria, the consolidation of an “arc of crisis and strategic challenges”[1] from the Sahel to Afghanistan-Pakistan via the Horn of Africa and the Gulf and the terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, France and Mali, to name a few, are unfortunately only some of the indicators of the very serious global deterioration of the situation.

 

The revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the European Security Strategy are clear signs that the European Union (EU) and its Member States are trying and willing to adapt their strategies in the light of the evolution of the geopolitical context. However, the refugee crisis has shown a deep divide among the EU Member States, whereas most of the proposals put forward in the joint communication of the Commission and the High Representative on the review of the ENP, published on 18th November 2015, will have to be discussed in 2016 and could lead, in 2017, to a difficult revision of some of the provisions of the current ENP financial instrument.

 

Are the EU and its Member States well equipped to face theses challenges and did the European Commission and the High Representative put the right proposals forward in November 2015? These are pressing questions to be answered. Given the need to put these issues into perspective it is necessary to make a brief overview of the Euro-Mediterranean Relationships from 1957 until 2006 (I). Then the current fragmented cooperation frameworks for Euro-Mediterranean Relationships (II) will be analysed in the light of the proposals contained in the 2015 review of the ENP (III).

 

  1. The Euro-Mediterranean Relationships from 1957 until 2006

 

If we look back to the Euro-Mediterranean relations’ history, that started with some provisions inserted within the 1957 Rome Treaty, it is obvious that these relations have always been characterised by up and downs depending on the evolution regional and international contexts and the political will of the different parties.

 

The first attempts of the European Economic Community

 

The signature of the 1957 EEC Treaty can be considered as a starting point for the relations between the EEC and the Mediterranean. Article 227 § 2 of the EEC Treaty referred to the peculiar situation of Algeria, a situation that ended in March 1962 with the conclusion of the Evian negotiations, which led to the independence of Algeria.  Several ‘declarations of intend’ with a view to associate to the EEC: Libya, Morocco and Tunisia were also inserted into the final act of the Rome Treaty. The aims of these declarations were threefold: to take into account the agreements concluded between France and Italy and the Maghreb countries; to enhance trade relations; and to contribute to the development of those countries. At this stage “economic association conventions” were envisaged for the future. The first association agreements were however only concluded at the end of the 1960s with Morocco and Tunisia. Those transitory agreements, concluded for 5 years, were limited to trade relations. At the beginning of the 1960’s and during the 1970’s four association agreements were also signed with the Northern Mediterranean countries: Greece, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus. The main objective of these agreements was to give the possibility to become Member States of the EEC.

 

This first period (1957-1971) was thus characterised by a post-colonial context that implied the perspective of privileged relationships (association conventions), a strong differentiation between the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean on the one hand, and the Northern (European) Mediterranean, on the other hand. Moreover, the strategy was limited to bilateralism.

 

The Global Mediterranean Policy

 

From the beginning of the 1970’s the EEC and its Member States tried to develop a first proper ‘Global Mediterranean Policy’ (1972), going beyond pure trade relations with an important development cooperation component. Concretely it took the form of new ‘cooperation agreements’ and the conclusion of five years bilateral financial protocols. At that time however no real multilateral framework was put in place, bilateralism remained the rule but the approach became more holistic. A renewed Mediterranean Policy was put in place between 1992-1995 to answer the consequences of the fall of the Berlin wall for the Mediterranean (fear of marginalisation of the Mediterranean countries) and the creation of the EU. This renewed policy was conceived as being a transition between the Global Mediterranean Policy and the future Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP). What was noticeable, in this period, was that a greater attention was paid to the civil society networks in the framework of the financial cooperation.

 

The European Union and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

 

The 1990’s were marked by the end of the Cold War, the creation of the EU with the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in November 1993 and the launching in 1995 of an ambitious Euro-Mediterranean Partnership that was based on a strong multilateral framework (the Barcelona Process) and a new generation of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements (EMAAs) establishing progressively bilateral Free Trade Areas (FTAs). A quite strong ‘spirit of partnership’, meaning a real sense of ownership, was one of the main characteristics of the process. The fact that the European Commission played the role of the secretariat, promoting the general interest of the EU Member states but also, to a certain extent, of all the partners is to be underlined. Numerous ministerial conferences were held after the November 1995 Barcelona Conference, thus reinforcing this sense of ownership. The context was of course very different compared to the current one, with noticeable progress on the Middle-East peace process track for instance. The situation deteriorated however quite quickly with the degradation of the situation in the Middle East. The atmosphere of the first Summit to celebrate the 10 years of the Barcelona Process was for instance very tensed and put forward the limits of the EMP consensual approach.

 

 

 

 

The long genesis of the ENP: 2002-2006

 

Between 2002 and 2006 the ENP was progressively put in place after the 2002 Copenhagen European Council concluded that: “the enlargement will strengthen relations with Russia. The European Union also wishes to enhance its relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and the southern Mediterranean countries based on a long-term approach promoting democratic and economic reforms, sustainable developments and trade”[2]. A series of communications of the European Commission were then published between 2003 and 2006 to, very progressively, define the methodology, instruments and final objectives of the ENP. This very long and difficult genesis is to be emphasized as it illustrates the absence of a clear common strategic vision of what should – or should not – be the ENP.

 

The major differences with the EMP were that the ENP was primarily European interests based and encompassed not only Mediterranean countries but also East European countries (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine), and, from 2004 on, three Southern Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia). The later was a direct consequence of Russia’s refusal to participate to the ENP, a first major setback for the EU. Another major difference is that the ENP was conceived to anticipate the consequences of the future (2004 and 2007) enlargements of the EU and was based on the pre-accession methodology (evaluation reports, alignment on the acquis, strong conditionality etc.) without however offering the perspective of the accession as such to the EU or even envisaging an appropriate financial support for launching so many and deep political and socio-economic reforms. The lack of ownership was also obvious, given the fact that no common founding declaration was even envisaged. Bilateralism but also unilateralism (a European policy primarily based on European interests) were reinforced, whereas the multilateral dimension was weakened by the vicissitudes of the first years of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).

 

  1. The current fragmented cooperation frameworks for Euro-Mediterranean Relationships

 

Today, the current cooperation frameworks for Euro-Mediterranean Relationships are very complex and quite fragmented.

 

The residuals of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

 

The residuals of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership are mainly the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements that are now used by for the implementation of some aspects of the ENP, through the creation of thematic association sub-committees notably. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs), envisaged with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, will be created on the basis of these, sometimes quite old agreements, as for instance the one with Tunisia was signed in 1995 even before the Barcelona Conference. Moreover, the 2010 global Euro-Mediterranean FTA, a key objective of the Barcelona declaration, has not been reached. The problem is that these old association agreements were conceived for the objectives of the 1995 EMP not for the ENP.

 

The Union for the Mediterranean

 

Since 2008 the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) covers 43 countries and its Barcelona based Secretariat concentrates on promoting (‘labelling’) concrete multilateral Euro-Mediterranean projects and more recently has been tasked to re-launch the sectoral Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial meetings. However, this initiative proved originally to be very detrimental to the multilateral dimension of the Euro-Mediterranean relations (the former Barcelona Process). A new impulse was given with the appointment of a new Secretary General and a few sectoral conferences were held since then. The problem is that much time has been lost and that, for the time being, the geo-political context allows limited high-level multilateral convergence.

 

The European Neighbourhood Policy

 

The European Neighbourhood Policy as such encompasses now the EU’s strategic vision (strategy papers/Joint Communications) and a substantial share of the EU’s financial bilateral and multi-country cooperation through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). But countries like Belarus, Syria and Libya or to a less extent Algeria still do not participate fully in this policy. Other beneficiaries of the ENP like Armenia and Azerbaijan also refused to negotiate a DCFTA with the EU, because of the strong pressure of Russia. One of the major objectives of the ENP, put forward by the 2002 European Council, was to avoid the creation of “new dividing lines in Europe and to promote stability and prosperity within and beyond the new borders of the Union”. Today, Crimea has been annexed and the cease fire in the Donbas remains fragile; South Ossetia and Abkhazia are de facto new borders in Europe whereas Syria and Libya are facing terrible civil wars, the whole region being more unstable than ever.

 

The pre-accession track: Turkey and the Balkans

 

Turkey is still on the pre-accession track and included in the UfM but is not a beneficiary of the ENP. In the Balkans, one should recall that the candidates countries are currently: Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia; the potential candidates being:  Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. In any case, the President of the European Commission has taken the decision with the consent of the Member States that there will be no accession during the five years of his mandate and even renamed the former DG enlargement of the European Commission: “DG European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations”, putting de facto these countries in a grey area.

 

To conclude this first point one can consider, on the one hand, that the EU approach is quite fragmented, but, on the other hand, the whole Mediterranean looks also much more fragmented compared to 1995. There is more divergence than convergence in the Euro-Mediterranean area to the point that it would be very difficult to organise a Barcelona conference today. The challenge of proposing a new approach for the ENP was thus considerable.

 

 

III. The 2015 European Neighbourhood Policy Review

 

A 2015 ‘review’ after a 2011 ‘revision’

 

The review and consultation process[3], “proposed by President Juncker and requested by EU Member States”[4], and launched by Mrs Mogherini and Mr Hahn on 4th March 2015 took place four years after the first (2011) ENP revision that was effectively implemented with the entry into force of the new European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) in March 2014. This meant, from the start of the process, that no new financial regulation (and financial envelope) as such could be negotiated before 2020, but that amendments could eventually be introduced during the mid-term revision of the financial cooperation foreseen in 2017. The problem is that the situation is evolving very quickly on the ground.

 

The EU Member States, in the 20 April 2014 Council conclusions ‘on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy’, affirmed the “four priority areas that the current ENP review seeks to address: ‘Differentiation’; ‘Focus’ (including inter alia security, economic development and trade, good governance, migration, energy and human rights); ‘Flexibility’; and ‘Ownership and Visibility’” adding that these “areas reflect the key principles that should help define a more streamlined ENP, in line with the EU’s political priorities and interests”[5]. In other words, the Member States framed the – at that time – future joint communication.

 

The 2015 Joint Communication on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy

 

The joint communication on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy[6] was published on 18 November 2015. It is however important to stress that: “the EU proposes to start a new phase of engagement with partners in 2016, consulting on the future nature and focus of the partnership”[7] and that: “the EU will use the mid-term review of EU external financing instruments in 2017 to look at streamlining administrative procedures and, where required, proposals will be made to amend the underlying legal acts”.[8] In other words, in principle, no real fundamental change will be introduced before mid-2017 as far as financial cooperation instruments are concerned. As a consequence the “new ENP will seek to deploy the available instruments and resources in a more coherent and flexible manner”[9]. So the question is: ‘what is really new in this ‘new’ ENP’?

 

The joint communication is articulated around four points, namely:

– Stabilising the neighbourhood;

– Stronger neighbourhood, stronger partnerships;

– Good governance, democracy Rule of Law, and human rights;

– Proposed joint priorities for cooperation;

– The regional dimension;

– More effective delivery.

 

It is important to stress that most of the elements referred to in the joint communication are already in place. Most of the proposals are about re-focussing the priorities or improving and enhancing current initiatives. There are however some quite new proposals.

 

A new focus 

 

According to the joint communication: there will be “a new focus on stepping up work with our partners on security sector reform, conflict prevention, counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation policies, in full compliance with international human rights law. (…) Safe and legal mobility and tackling irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling are also priorities”[10]. Security and migration were identified among the six priorities areas by the Council in April (see above). The four others (economic development and trade, good governance, energy and human rights) are also tackled throughout the joint communication. So the focus will change as for the revision of 2011 the keywords were: promoting deep democracy in the Mediterranean and ‘deeper political association and economic integration’ with the EU. This remains valid for the partners having the political will to do so. But should be understood is that is that for ‘security’ and ‘migration’, other EU policies, outside the ENP framework, will have to be taken into consideration.

 

A new methodology?

 

In terms of methodology, the conditionality, reinforced with new deep democracy criteria in 2014, will be now be more ‘adapted’, at bilateral level, to the engagement of the partners. The joint communication states that: “the incentive-based approach (“More for More”) has been successful in supporting reforms (…) where there is a commitment by partners to such reforms. However, it has not proven a sufficiently strong incentive to create a commitment to reform, where there is not the political will. In these cases, the EU will explore more effective ways to make its case for fundamental reforms with partners, including through engagement with civil, economic and social actors”. More concretely, there “will no longer be a single set of progress reports on all countries simultaneously. Instead the EU will seek to develop a new style of assessment, focusing specifically on meeting the goals agreed with partners”. Moreover, for “those partners who prefer to focus on a more limited number of strategic priorities, the reporting framework will be adjusted to reflect the new focus”[11]. This means that the regional regular reports (South-East of the ENP) will “contain the elements required under the (ENI) Regulation” on “fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights issues”[12] but the bilateral evaluations will be differentiated. This could mean a double standard approach: the current ENI deep democracy criteria for bilateral evaluations for those willing too deepen political association and economic integration with the EU (Moldova, Ukraine Georgia, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan mainly) and a different one, more limited, for countries not willing to do so. This is not in line with the current ENI regulation that would need to be amended.

 

The neighbours of the EU neighbours

 

The issue of the neighbours of the EU neighbours (Sahel, Horn of Africa, Gulf and Central Asia) mentioned by the Commission in 2006[13] has been now been taken into consideration a different levels. According to the joint communication: the “new ENP will now seek to involve other regional actors, beyond the neighbourhood, where appropriate, in addressing regional challenges”.[14] This is certainly a good initiative that could be enlarged to other areas of cooperation[15], the trans-national/regional issues (migration, security, energy) being prioritised. Moreover, in this regard, the EU “will use Thematic Frameworks to offer cooperation on regional issues (…) to provide a regular forum to discuss joint policy approaches, programming and investment that reach beyond the neighbourhood”[16], Turkey being mentioned explicitly in this framework.

 

The security factor

 

What is striking is the importance given to the security dimension and more especially CFSP. If some bridges between the CFSP and the ENP have been created from the start of the ENP, like the alignment of partners on EU CFSP declarations or the participation of partners to CSDP missions and operation,[17] the joint communication, in the section devoted to security, identified seven main areas:

– Security sector reform;

– Tackling terrorism and preventing radicalisation;

– Disrupting organised crime;

– Fighting cybercrime;

– Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Risk Mitigation;

– Common Security and Defence Policy;

– Crisis management and response.

 

The idea of ensuring a better coherence between the CFSP and the ENP is definitely a good initiative, but it is important to understand that these are two distinct policies that do not involve the same logic, methodology and procedures at decision making level. Therefore there is a need to avoid an excessive strengthening of the intergovernmental approach, which, by definition, would be based on the lowest common denominator and could contaminate and paralyse the ENP.

 

The migratory factor

 

The migratory factor is also a key focus. Under the heading: ‘migration and mobility’, five elements are put forward:

– Develop partnerships based on an integrated approach;

– Promote mutually-beneficial migration and mobility;

– Ensuring protection for those in need;

– Tackling irregular migration;

– Stepping up cooperation on border management.

 

Here the novelty is mainly to incorporate the latest developments of the refugee crisis, and corresponding EU initiatives and decisions and to develop a more holistic approach including the neighbours of the EU neighbours. Some proposals like: “a platform of dialogue with businesses, trade unions and social partners (…) to better assess labour market needs”; the creation of a “new start-up (Startback) fund to provide capital to promote brain circulation”[18]; the reference to ‘circular migration’ and the links to be made with ‘diaspora communities’ must be highlighted.

 

Some proposals of specific interest

 

Even if the ‘new ENP’ means mainly to (re-)focus on some new priorities and to adopt a more flexible approach in certain areas, most of the actions and programmes mentioned in the joint communication are already in place. However, some novelties should be underlined:

– The “Commission and the High Representative will (…) examine the case for a ‘flexibility cushion’ within the ENI, i.e. to set aside resources until used for urgent programming of unforeseen needs”[19];

– The “engagement with young people across the neighbourhood will be stepped up by creating partnerships for youth. These partnerships will promote people to people contacts and networks for young people (…). It should include a substantial increase in exchanges between schools and universities, including the potential for a pilot-project of a European School in the neighbourhood”[20];

– “The development ‘Friends of Europe’ clubs and alumni networks” ; “networks of “youth ambassadors”; “creation of fora to enable exchanges between young leaders and future opinion formers from across the EU and its neighbourhood.”[21]

 

 

Conclusion: Towards a more Strategic, Differentiated and Intergovernmental ENP

 

The near future is very unpredictable given the development of very difficult humanitarian, (geo-)political and socio-economic challenges. In the short term, the EU and its Member States should answer the major challenges posed by the situations in Syria, Iraq and Libya and its humanitarian consequences, including the refugee camps in neighbouring countries and the issue of foreign fighters. The migratory factor has always been a major issue in Euro-Mediterranean relations. However the progressive externalisation of EU’s border controls has generated many questions at the level of human rights protection for example. Now the current crisis is quite unique but must be first of all considered as being a humanitarian crisis. For instance, the potential impact of the 18th May decision of the Council to establish an EU military operation – EUNAVFOR Med- to break the business model of smugglers and traffickers of people in the Mediterranean[22] generated strong negative reactions, including an impressive petition of academics.

 

The recent engagement of Russian forces in Syria is certainly a major event. Washington and Moscow are now directly and officially engaged in “combat over the same country for the first time since World War Two”. It is also “the first time Moscow has ordered its forces into combat outside the frontiers of the former Soviet Union” since the 1980s Afghanistan campaign”.[23] In other words, the strategic situation has changed with the first Russian air and naval strikes. Following the terrorist’s attacks in Paris, the ‘mutual assistance clause’ based on Article 42(7) TEU[24] was activated, for the first time, on 17 November 2015 by France and unanimously supported by the EU Member States who expressed their readiness to provide “all the necessary aid and assistance”. The High Representative pointed out that: “offers may consist of material assistance and of support in theatres of operation where France is engaged” and underlined that “this is not a CSDP operation, but an activation of aid and assistance”[25]. At NATO level, the collective defence clause of the article 5 of the Washington Treaty has not been (yet) activated but the UNSR 2249 (2015), adopted on 20Th November, called UN Member States to “redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL (…) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups” and to “eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”. The members of the UNSC are: “determined to combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international peace and security”[26]. One should also recall that article 4[27] of the Washington Treaty has been activated by Poland and Turkey in 2014 and 2015. Turkey, being NATOs pillar in the region, is definitively on all frontlines.

 

An appropriate response to the challenges of the democratic transition in Tunisia is a key short-term priority. The EU and its Member States cannot afford to miss the opportunity to support one of the only genuine democratic transitions in the Southern Mediterranean. The EU and its Member States can notably help in key sectors like the reform of judiciary and transitional justice or support the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. The participation of Tunisia to the EU agencies and programs in order to accompany the DCFTA negotiations is also very important.

 

In the medium term it will be indispensible to ensure and sometimes restore EU’s credibility. Credibility can only be founded on a consistent approach of the EU and its Member States. A Double standard approach regarding the implementation of conditionality clauses for example will always be damageable in the medium/long-term and fuel the jihadist’s discourse. Thus, it is very important that the EU, its institutions and Member States develop a coherent approach in order to avoid criticism at the level of the implementation of conditionality. More differentiation and flexibility is possible, but any kind of discrimination should be avoided. Also reallocation of funding in case of breach of the conditionality clauses should be the rule and should not depend on the ‘political engagement’ of the partner vis à vis the EU.

 

What is proposed in the 2015 Joint Communication is mainly too deepen differentiation and flexibility within the ENP and to refocus some of its priorities, even if for instance stability, security, prosperity were already, in 2002, the main general objectives. What is obvious is that the ENP is becoming more and more strategic and also more intergovernmental. On the other hand, ownership might be reinforced, as a set of concrete proposals will be discussed in 2016. If rapid action is needed in certain areas (Humanitarian aid, Counter-terrorism), deep and shared impact analyses are indispensable to avoid launching any counter-productive initiative in a very dangerous strategic context.

[1] See E. Lannon, “Introduction: the ‘neighbours of the EU’s neighbours’, the ‘EU’s broader neighbourhood’ and the ‘arc of crisis and strategic challenges’ from the Sahel to Central Asia”, in S. Gstohl & E. Lannon, “The Neighbours of the European Union’s Neighbours- Diplomatic and Geopolitical Dimensions beyond the European Neighbourhood Policy”, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, pp. 1-25.

[2] Conclusions of the Presidency of the 12th December 2002 European Council, Copenhagen, point 24.

[3] See European Commission and High Representative Joint Consultation Paper, Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy, Brussels, 4 March 2015, http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/consultation/consultation.pdf

[4] European Commission and High Representative, Joint communication on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Brussels, 18 November 2015 JOIN(2015) 50 final, http://eeas.europa.eu/enp/documents/2015/151118_joint-communication_review-of-the-enp_en.pdf, p. 2

[5] See point 6 of the conclusions available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/04/20-council-conclusions-review-european-neighbourhood-policy/

[6] JOIN(2015) 50 final, op. cit.

[7] ibid. p. 4.

[8] Ibid p. 20.

[9] Ibid., p. 3. Emphasis added.

[10] Ibid., p. 3.

[11] Ibid. p. 5.

[12] Ibid. p. 5.

[13] See Erwan Lannon (2014) op. cit.

[14] Ibid. p. 3

[15] See: S. Gstohl and E. Lannon (eds), “The European Union’s Broader Neighbourhood: Challenges and opportunities for cooperation beyond the European Neighbourhood Policy”, Routledge, 2015, 348 p.

[16] Ibid. p. 18.

[17] The Naval operation EUNAVFOR recently renamed ‘Sophia’ by Mrs Mogherini is the current main example in the Mediterranean together with EUBAM Rafah, EUBAM Libya and EUPOL COPPS/Palestinian Territories).

[18] Ibid. p. 16.

[19] Ibid. p. 20

[20] Ibid p. 21

[21] Ibid p. 21.

[22] See the Council decision at:  http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32015D0778&qid=1435825940768&from=EN

[23] Reuters, Iran troops to join Syria war, Russia bombs group trained by CIA, 2 October 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/us-mideast-crisis-russia-syria-idUSKCN0RV41O20151002

[24] Article 42(7) TEU:
”If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.”

[25] Outcome of the 3426th Council meeting, Foreign Affairs, Brussels, 16 and 17 November 2015, p. 6.

[26] See: http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12132.doc.htm. Emphasis added.

[27] Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, states that: “the parties will consult whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the parties is threatened.”

Visits: 198

“SYRIANS in TURKEY: FROM EMERGENCY AID POLICIES TO INTEGRATION POLICIES”

imagesAssoc. Prof. Dr. M. MURAT ERDOGAN

Director, Hacettepe University Migration and Politics Research Centre-HUGO

 

“SYRIANS in TURKEY: FROM EMERGENCY AID POLICIES TO INTEGRATION POLICIES”[1]

 

The Hacettepe University Migration and Politics Research Centre-HUGO conducted a comprehensive research study on the social acceptance and integration of Syrians in Turkey, who escaped from the initial conflict and subsequent civil war that has been ongoing in their country since April 2011 and sought refuge in Turkey within the framework of “open doors policy” and are provided with “temporary protection”, whose registered number of Syrians exceeded 2.181.293 by November 2015. This comprehensive study, which is managed by the Director of HUGO Assoc.Prof.Dr. M. Murat Erdoğan with a research team of 11 people in 8 months between January-October 2014 duration with the application of various scientific methods is focused on the social acceptance and integration perspectives of this severe and multifaceted crisis faced by Turkey and the world. This study’s aim is to understand both Turkish and Syrian societies and to provide predictions for developing sound public policies. In the framework of this study, it is intended to reveal the current conditions, properties, levels of satisfaction, problems and attitudes towards permanence of Syrians in Turkey, synchronously with Turkish society’s opinions, expectations and problems with Syrian refugees.

One of the important predictions of this study is that day by day Syrians in Turkey are getting further from being “temporary” to becoming “permanent”. This study predicts that the social acceptance of Turkish society is immensely high on the issue of Syrians in Turkey though certain limitations are evident as  “hospitality” may turn into “hate, enmity”, especially obstacles before the accessibility to public services, apprehension to lose current jobs and security concerns stemming from the very existence of Syrians, which is a potential occurrence to be taken seriously, and for social acceptance to be sustained, comprehensive migration management is necessary. Policymaking gets harder due to the fact that the issue of Syrians in Turkey is not merely humanitarian but also imbued with political aspects as well.

The most prominent pursuit of this study concerns how to handle the process and what to do for the refugee issue. Two important aspects to be taken into consideration in terms of well crisis management in Turkey are indicated in the study. First of all is the impossibility of a sound process management without registration, and the other is the necessity of synchronous strategy development for both cases of temporariness and permanence. The issue of Syrians in Turkey, even if the Syrian regime collapsed today, should be considered an issue that has potential impacts on Turkey’s prospects in the next decade. It is necessary to develop short, middle and long term strategies, which will fill the gap between the assumptions that “Soon the Syrians will return home by the end of the crisis.” and “The crisis will take longer to resolve, and even if it is granted, a significant amount of the Syrian population will stay here due to the appeal of Turkey or the dire conditions in Syria.” Another important finding of this study is that social acceptance in Turkey is extraordinarily high despite the problems encountered, yet it is on fragile terms and for it to be sustainable, a well-managed process, e.g. making strategies of “temporariness” and permanence” is necessary, and these strategies should be brought to public attention and inspire public support. While it is almost impossible to keep the partially unguarded 911 km long Syrian border under constant control, precautions must be taken for possible newcomers as well as for those who are present.

As an institution academically specialized on Turkish-origin people abroad, this study conducted by HUGO benefited from the experiences of social acceptance, social exclusion, and integration of the Turks abroad who went to Europe for work with a one year contract, yet could not return and became permanent.

STUDIES CONDUCTED IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THIS RESEARCH:

  • In-Depth Interviews: A total of 144 people divided in half as 72 locals and 72 Syrians from 6 provinces of Turkey—Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay on the borderland and Istanbul, Izmir and Mersin out of the borderland—were subject to an in-depth interview.
  • Survey Research: Survey research titled “Perception of Syrians in Turkey” was conducted with a sample of 1501 people from 18 provinces between September-October 2014.
  • Media Analysis: Internet news, commentaries and assessments by 21 general/national and 56 local media institutions were examined.
  • NGO Analysis: Meetings were arranged with 38 different national and international NGOs working on the subject in and out of the region in which their works are assessed.
  • Expert Contacts: Meetings were arranged with the managers of almost every state agency and local authorities associated with the subject; moreover, the abovementioned studies were analyzed in an international workshop in Hacettepe University by the field experts and high profile authorities, the results of which are assessed in this report as well.

SYRIANS IN TURKEY: STATUS-NUMBER-FINDING

 

  • “Open Door Policy”-“Temporary Protection”: Since April 2011, in alignment with what international law and conscience dictates, within the framework of “open door policy” and “temporary protection” policies, Turkey has admitted Syrians who escaped from upheaval caused by the bloody suppression of the protests opposing the Syrian regime and the subsequent outbreak of civil war. This policy adheres to the principles of international law, notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention of 1951.
  • Number of Refugees and Duration of Their Stay Could Not Be Predicted During the Process: At the onset, the anticipated duration of stay for Syrians was 1-2-3 weeks with 50-100 thousand in number, while now it is protracted day by day. As the upheaval and state of war continue, further extension of the duration is expected. A new situation emerged after the increase in ISIS activity in Syria, which may result in an immediate influx of thousands of people toward the border as seen in the Kobani case.
  • Number of Syrians in Turkey: The figure provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on November 3, 2015 is 2.181.293, which indicates the number of registered Syrians. The UNHCR states that weekly updated numbers under the “registered” label are received from Turkish officials. However, since sound registration has thus far been unavailable and border crossings are so frequent to/from Syria, there are a variety of claims asserting that the real number is higher or lower than provided. The officials of General Directorate for Migration Management, who carries out the registration process, state that they put significant effort on the “Biometric” registration and managed to register 90% of the Syrians. However, there is no doubt that the total number of Syrians in Turkey exceeds 2,5 million at any rate.
  • Numbers Inside-Outside the Camps: While 10-11% of the refugees (260.000) are sheltered in 25 camps (accommodation centers) located in 10 provinces, the real mass of the at least 2 million people are outside the camps, spread across almost everywhere in Turkey. Among those the highest number resides in Şanlıurfa with 356.000 people. It is followed by Hatay with 341.000 people and İstanbul with 305.000, Gaziantep with 277.000, Adana 121.000 people. Kilis and Mersin host each 114.000, Mardin hosts 88.000, İzmir 73.000 and Kahramanmaraş hosts 72.000 Syrians outside the camps. 10.000 to 50.000 Syrians are shared by 11 other provinces in Turkey.
Number of the Refugees in Turkey: Top-Ten Cities in Turkey

 

  • Registration: By November 3, 2015 onward, it is stated that 2.181.293 Syrians are registered among the estimated 2,5 million. However, by November, 90-95% of the Syrians are registered. The Ministry of Interior Affairs put vigorous effort into concluding the registrations by the end of 2014 with technical assistance from the UNHCR. The reasons behind the registration problem are thought to be that it was seen as “unnecessary” at the onset due to the expectation that “Syrians would return before long” and later it became harder to control due to the continued refugee influx, as well as an avoidance of people to be registered. The failure to register Syrians in Turkey hinders crisis management and causes problems in fulfilling the requirements of refugees and in providing them with security.

 

  • Women and Children: Among the Syrians in Turkey, the number of women and children who are in need of special care is above 75%. 53.3% of the Syrians in Turkey are comprised of people below 18, who are defined as children by the UN.

 

Syrians in Turkey and Their Ages
http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php (Erişim tarihi: 27 Ekim 2015)

 

 

  • Syrian Babies Born In Turkey: It is stated that in the 4.5 years between April 2011 and November  2015 the number of babies born in camps and the cities where camps are located is 200.000.
  • Education-Enrollment Rate Remains At Low Levels: More than 54.2% of the Syrians in Turkey are children and youth below 18 years old. There is a serious problem about the enrollment of Syrian children since their stay was not expected to take so long at the onset and the medium of instruction is Turkish. Despite better conditions in camps, the general rate of enrolment remains at the low levels of 15-20%.
  • Change in Ethno-religious Characteristics: In the aftermath of April 11, 2011, the vast majority of incomers from Syria were Sunni-Arabs. However, by 2014 onward, significant variation took place in the ethno-religious characteristics of Syrian refugees, as ISIS violence intensified in the region. The arrival of many non-Sunni-Arab Syrians such as Yazidis, Armenians and Kurds validated the discourse of open doors for the sake of humanity and eased the concerns of those who perceived the arrival of Sunni-Arabs as a political move.
  • Costs and Lack of International Support: Turkey bears the enormously high costs of Syrian refugees. Foreign support in meeting those costs is quite limited. As of November 2015, Turkey has spent more than 7.5 billion US dollars on Syrians. Furthermore, Turkish NGOs allocated 635 million dollars of financial support. Foreign support during this period remained at 417 million dollars, which is only 4-5% of the total expenses. The UN’s calls for “urgent” aid in terms of basic needs attracted very little interest from prosperous and developed countries and institutions. For instance, while the requested sum for the year 2014 was 3.7 billion dollars, the funds raised were only 50%, which is 1.9 billion. The share of Turkey within these funds is quite low as well (70 million USD for the year 2014).
  • Insensitivity of International Community in Humanitarian Cost Sharing: As they were reluctant and inadequate in sharing the financial costs, prosperous and developed countries remained even more so when it came to sharing the humanitarian costs (refugees).  Only 10-15% of the total Syrian refugee population was admitted or committed to admission by countries other than the 5 in the region (Turkey (2.181.293), Lebanon (078.338), Jordan (629.627), Iraq (245.585), and Egypt (128.019)). Despite the urgent and humble calls of aid, financial support was not adequately ensured. The total number of Syrians that Western countries committed to admit is 600.000-700.000 in 4.5 years. These number was in March 2015 only 150.000.

 

Source:  UNHCR (http//data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id:224) (31 Aralık 2014)

 

 

  • Call from Western World to Turkey: “Open Your Doors In The East Close Them In The West!” Western countries expressed sensitivity on the “open doors” policy of Turkey. However, it is observed that in the same western countries, particularly in the European Union, the thinking revolved around “open your eastern borders, but always keep the western ones closed so that they won’t come.”
  • Crisis Management: Turkey has devoted enormous effort for Syrian refugees since April 2011. While a Deputy Prime Minister (Beşir Atalay, Numan Kurtulmuş, successively) specialized on the issue, “Prime Ministry General Coordinatorate for Syrian Refugees” was established and a Coordinator Governor (Veysel Dalmaz) was appointed to the post in Gaziantep by a Prime Ministry Circular dated September 20, 2012 “in order to deal with all matters related to the coordination of state agencies concerning Syrian refugees in Turkey.”  Moreover, the associated departments of all ministries keep operating in and out of the region. Since July 2015 Chef Advisor of Premierminister Dr. Murtaza Yetiş is responsible for the coordination.
  • Geneva Convention and Protocol (1951-1967): The international obligations of Turkey on the issue of refugees are determined within the framework of the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. However, Turkey’s reservation to accept only those who come from Europe as “refugees” has been a disputed issue for years. Turkey insists on the reservation in order to avoid legal obligation, despite the services that it provided regarding frequent cases of mass migration caused by acute instability in the region. However, when the fundamental rights of refugees in terms of universal principles of law and the de facto situation in the region are considered, it is pointless to maintain the geographical reservations. The Syrian crisis revealed that those reservations generate problems. Turkey should abolish the geographical reservations with a rights-based consideration. According to the 2014 UNHCR figures, Turkey awaits 170.000 refugee candidates besides the Syrians. Although that number has no significance when compared to Syrians, it will increase through its “Readmission Agreement” with the EU.
  • Law On Foreigners And International Protection (2013): As a result of the process started in 1999, Turkey enacted the Law on Foreigners and International Protection for the first time in 2013 widely through the influence of the EU, and in the framework of that law the Directorate General of Migration Management was established in an effort to move towards a new policy that is more human and rights-based, where civil initiatives are prioritized and security oriented attitudes are partially abandoned. This law was designed bearing in mind that Turkey becomes a “target” country for irregular and mass migration day by day. It is unfortunate that the Syrian crisis took place in the same period, as this institution had just been established and was in the process of drafting internal legislation and because the Syrian crisis reached far beyond any expectation. Only after the second half of 2014 was it possible to get the situation under control.
  • Regulation of Temporary Protection: Regulation of Temporary Protection”, which was introduced on October 22, 2014, is widely affected by the Syrian crisis. The regulation also introduced the concept of “conditional refugee” for the first time together with “refugee” in association with the geographical reservations of Turkey in the Geneva Convention. The regulation did not specify a time limit for “temporary protection”, yet defined the framework of services to be provided for “conditional refugees” within the bounds of possibility. Thus, the mentality behind the regulation is not about the recognition of the “rights” of the refugees and “obligations” of the state, but rather displaying a character of “host’s support for guests in goodwill—within the scope which conditions allowed—”. Both the law and the regulation establish a basic framework, yet it is deduced that regulations allow particular arrangements for Syrians. Temporary Article 1 of Regulation of Temporary Protection clarified the status of Syrians via a special regulation:

“After April 28th, 2011 due to events occurring in the Syrian Arab Republic, Syrian citizens, stateless people and refugees who came from Syrian Arab Republic to the border of Turkey or cross the border of Turkey individually or massively for the purpose of temporary protection will be granted temporary protection even if they applied for international protection.
As the temporary protection is on process, individual application for international protection will not be put in process.” (RTP- Temporary Article 1)

  • Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency performed an earlier prior role in the process for several reasons: Rapid and unexpected escalation of the crisis, assumptions of “temporariness” and the fact that migration management was only possible within the field. So long as the Syrian tendency to stay is reinforced, the Directorate General for Migration Management will gain more initiative and a different structure of policymaking will emerge. The law and the regulation also create due designs to confer main authority on the Directorate.
  • Extraordinary and devoted efforts undertaken by the state staff working in the region or in Ankara should be appreciated and they should be encouraged to continue such outstanding behavior.
  • Syrians and Unemployment: Turkey has hosted more than 2.2-2.5 million refugees in 4.5 years. However, analogous to many other cases of mass migration around the world, one of the main concerns of the local people refers to the labor market. Apart from the unrest in the society, employing people who are “helpless” and eager to work underpaid seems advantageous to many businesspersons. It is necessary for the state to provide particular support for those who are at risk of losing their jobs. However, it is not easy to respond to the question of whether Syrians cause unemployment in Turkey. According to 2013 data provided by the Turkish Statistics Institute, Kilis, Gaziantep and Adıyaman are the top three provinces in which unemployment decreased synchronously with increasing capacity. These surprising numbers indicate new economic development brought by Syrian refugees. Additionally, it is claimed that many Syrian businesspersons transferred their capital to Turkey due to the crisis, which ensured a significant amount of foreign capital inflows.
  • Camp Standards: There are 25 “accommodation centers”, or camps, in 10 provinces with the capacity to hold 260.000 people. Here, Turkey rather applied the presented scenery in the foreign camps in its own practice, which proved effective. There is even news published by foreign media with headings like “Go See Turkey to See How to Build Perfect Camps.” Undoubtedly though, high standards in these 6 container cities only address a small fraction of the general Syrian problem and has received criticisms for being a “PR” effort. Another outcome of high standards in the camps is that it may have caused a decreased amount of support for Turkey. Comparative studies also revealed that high-standard camps are not enough to derive satisfaction by itself.

 

I.                    HUGO FIELDWORK: IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS

 

In the framework of HUGO research, 144 In-Depth interviews were conducted with 72 Turks/Locals and 72 Syrians outside the camps from 6 provinces (Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin), which provided some important clues about the subject.

 

Provinces where  in-depth interviews were conducted:

GAZİANTEP-KİLİS-HATAY-MERSİN-İZMİR-İSTANBUL

 

 

 

  • Syrian Views and Expectations:

 

  • Syrians expressed that they are happy and content to be in Turkey, for which they are grateful to the Turkish people.
  • The most pressing issue expressed by Syrians is about the right to labor. They stated that they desire to engage in working life; thus, they will no longer be a burden for Turkey. In case of undeclared working, they are very likely to be exploited.
  • Despite the high standards in the camps (accommodation centers), which stand as an example for the world, Syrians do not prefer to reside in camps unless necessary. Major reasons for that are: The strict discipline in the camps, lack of employment opportunities, reluctant religious families who perceive life in camps as unfit for their daughters, a sense of isolation-exclusion. It generates problems for all refugees to stay in camps longer than expected. Therefore, the number of those who leave the camps after they are admitted is quite high.
  • Almost all of the Syrians, who intend to return when the war is over and desirable conditions at home are ensured, are quite pessimistic about it as peace is not likely to be established anytime soon.
  • Syrians expressed that if they were conferred upon citizenship, particularly in the case of dual nationality, they would admit at once.
  • One of the biggest concerns of Syrians is their children’s incomplete education. Since the medium of instruction is Turkish in Turkey, a separate system structured by several NGOs working in and out of the camps in which a “sorted out” version of Syrian Curriculum. On the other hand, this system falls short of fulfilling the necessity. Only around 15% of Syrian children are able to receive education.
  • Syrians expressed that Turkish people embraced and hosted them very well. Still, they stated that their prolonged stay has affected their relations and emotions. Distinctively, when asked “What disturbs you most?” Syrians responded “to be called ‘guests’”. In fact, to be a guest is not a “right” but a condition, which depends largely upon the host. In line with that, by affirming the “guest” status, a host basically intends to put the guests in their place, particularly in case the visit is longer than expected.
  • The tendency of female Syrians in particular to permanently stay in Turkey increases daily. This is a universally common development, which is similarly observed in other places in the world.
  • Educated and professional Syrians expressed that they want to be transferred to a country in Western Europe, or to countries like the USA or Canada. They commonly emphasize the lack of working opportunities in Turkey as a reason for that.
  • Another point that disturbs Syrians is the issue of “Syrian beggars” common in Turkey. Syrians claim that these beggars are not the people impoverished after coming Turkey, but rather are professional “Gypsy/Roman” beggar groups who were begging in Syria as well. They expressed that beggars had an extremely negative influence on the perception of Syrians in Turkey.
  • Syrians expressed discontent about the political instead of humanitarian treatment of the issue. According to Syrians, the government’s discourse causes exclusion of Syrians by other political groups.
  • Views and Expectations of Turks/ Local people[2]
    • Responses are distinct in and out of the region. In the region, three principal points emerge:  Increasing rents, fear of losing jobs, disruptions in receiving public services, mainly healthcare.
    • A massive increase in rents occurred and is a reality that makes many people victims. Local people become rather reluctant to rent homes to Syrians as well. Descriptions about Syrians being unable to pay their rents are common, causing trouble and living with excess numbers such as 15-20 people in the homes they rented as a single family.
    • In any case of mass migration in the world, local people are disturbed, or even prompted to xenophobia, by “losing their jobs” or “competition induced by an increased labor supply, resulting in income decrease”. This is clearly observed in the region. Among the tradesmen and industrialists, there are those who consider the Syrian presence as an opportunity. On the employee’s side, the situation seems rather unpleasant. The availability of a Syrian who will work for 300TL monthly in a bakery, instead of a local person who will ask for 1000TL for the same job increases the social tension and refusal.
    • From time to time, the existence of a Syrian population that exceeds that of the local population causes problems in receiving public services, particularly healthcare, in the region. In fact, this is rather a matter of perception. In the research carried out by the Governorship in Kilis, which hosts more Syrians than its population, healthcare services received by Syrians is merely 3%. However, the appearance of hospital emergency rooms filled with Syrian crowds disturbs local people and negative perceptions are reinforced by disruptions in services.
    • Regarding public services, several views are observed as “Priority is given to Syrians rather than us. Sometimes we are even only able to receive services by impersonating them.”
    • At the local level, Syrians are commonly identified with theft, prostitution, seizure, property damage, etc. Nevertheless, all of the studies indicated that crime rates are lower among Syrians than among locals. Still, the perception about that is inflated and negative.
    • There are a lot of complaints among locals that “they are disturbed by the arrival of Syrians since everywhere is filled with thieves and bullies, while they were sleeping with open doors and windows once.”
    • There is a perception among locals about the prostitution of young, impoverished Syrian women. From the data provided in this study and contact made with associated institutions, it is concluded that this is largely an exaggerated rumor. Two “sex workers” (prostitutes) we contacted in Istanbul stated that they were already in the profession back in Syria and continued in Turkey when the war broke out, and never encountered anyone who engaged in the “prostitution sector” after arriving in Turkey. A camp authority stated that they investigated a complaint about a woman who was reportedly working as a prostitute in Syria and continued in the camp, on which they took necessary measures.
    • Similar claims are made about child marriages, which are common, and most of these are in the form of polygamous marriages involving several wives. This is a highly complex matter, as the marriage of 13-16 year old girls is perceived as “normal” by a large segment of Syrians. More importantly is the problem of marriages taking place on religious terms inside the families without being registered. The sphere of influence of Turkish officials is limited in terms of the legal status of Syrians. Nevertheless, serious inflations are detected about the matter of marriages made on religious terms with multiple wives or those who work as servants in houses disguised as wives. Surely, these sorts of incidents have happened, yet these are not so common as to be generalized. The number of officially confirmed incidents is extremely low.
    • It is observed that the matter of young, Syrian women raises severe concerns among women in the region. Women in the region demonstrate their discontent with young, Syrian women who are thought to be under hard conditions and in a position to easily accept marriage proposals. It is observed that men in the region sometimes use it as means to oppress and threaten their wives. The existence of these men pressuring their wives by asserting “behave and obey or I will take one of these 15 year old girls from the camps as a second wife, no dowry, no grumbling from in-laws” is easily observed. Serious findings indicate that this causes discontent even depression among women to the degree that they ask for professional help from psychiatrists-psychologists. Women in the region contacted in the framework of this study are extremely eager for Syrians to return home and expressed their discontent about Syrians through a sentiment in line with hate. Though it is a perception largely caused by men, it is a problem that should be taken into serious consideration.
    • The number of people underlining the cultural gap, marginalizing the Syrians or describing Syrian presence as “trouble” is extremely high. The “Our Syrian brothers” attitude is not so common in society. Syrians are described as “People who escaped from tyranny/brutality” “People under hard conditions”, yet they are remarkably not perceived as “one of us”. This is evident in the survey research.
    • It is often repeated that Syrians are “guests” and they are under the obligation to “conform”. Here it is observed that “to be a guest” suggests a concept of “restriction”.
    • Local people sympathize with Syrians who are closer to their own ethnic or religious properties while excluding the others. While Arabs think highly of Arabs, Kurds of Kurds, and Turks of Turkmen, each group marginalizes every other one.
    • There are local people who put in a lot of effort in solidarity with Syrians, as many as those who are concerned and demand Syrians to leave at once. Notably, some people who said “I cannot caress my children’s heads at home when I see those people who are desperate and poor” share their bread and spend a lot of their time on providing a bit of help to Syrians.
    • Significant differences are observed among the provinces. Hatay is where the highest level of tension is observed. The main reason is that the population in Hatay, mainly the Alawites, perceive the government’s Syria policy as means of “Sunnification of the region” and Syrians as “terrorists”. Erdoğan’s statement of “Our Sunni citizens were killed.” after the bombing incident in Reyhanlı had a tremendous impact. Results of the local elections held on March 30, 2014 are indicative of the reaction.
    • In the beginning of 2014, there were widespread claims in the region that the government brought Syrians to have them vote in favor during the elections on March 30, 2014. Although these claims are still evident, they no longer have so much effect.
    • Out of the region, the Syrian issue is largely associated with “beggars”. In major cities, there are no serious complaints about Syrians other than this “security-aesthetic” concern. As it is known, the policy of placement of beggars in camps after August 2014 produced evident results. However, this beggar issue should still be taken into serious consideration due to its security dimension and its being an element of Syrian perception that is “on Syrians’ heads.” Strict measures are widely demanded on the issue of beggars, which triggers marginalization, degradation, hatred and enmity.
    • In the provinces out of the region, ambiguity about the number of Syrians causes extremely inflated assumptions. Official numbers suggest that there are 30.000 Syrians in Ankara, while many people claim that it is around 200-300.000. Surely, the main problem here is the state’s communication policy, which is characterized by shortcomings in disseminating sound information. This also causes a lack of trust in the state.

II. HUGO RESEARCH SURVEY: FINDINGS OF “SYRIAN PERCEPTION IN TURKEY”:

The issue of Syrians in Turkey is one of the most pressing matters of the past 3 years. More than 87%, that is 2 million, of the Syrians whose number is reported to be 2.2-2,5 as of November 2015, live outside the camps spread out over all regions in Turkey. In a statement by the Ministry of Interior, only 9 provinces were reported to be without Syrian presence, while Syrians live in all other 72 provinces. But in 2015 all cities in Turkey have Syrians.

The issue of Syrians in Turkey has become an integral part of daily life and politics. Despite the positive picture evident in the level of social acceptance, several social incidents are observed to raise concerns. Many incidents took place, such as demonstrations demanding “Syrians Out” and direct assaults on Syrian people. Such incidents generally originate from a crime in which Syrians are associated. An important reason behind the protests in some places is the issue of unjust competition in enterprise or employment. Unless the process is well-managed, xenophobia and enmity may rapidly spread among some groups within Turkish society, which so far has demonstrated high levels of social acceptance toward Syrians and has been quite supportive of them. The attitude shown thus far is a humanitarian gain on the side of Turkish people. However, these qualities face a serious risk of depletion. Considering that Turkish society has hosted 1.6 million Syrians for 4.5 years without making problems about the 7.5 million dollars spent on Syrians and has kept reactions limited, despite unjust competition and all the security risks, the question of how Turkish society perceives Syrians remains  essential in producing future strategies.

Survey research conducted in the framework of this study with a sample comprised of 1.501 people from 18 provinces revealed the general picture of Turkey and provided an opportunity for testing the results with the findings from in-depth interviews.

 

A-     TECHNICAL PROPERTIES OF THE  RESEARCH  SURVEY OF SYRIAN REFUGEES IN PUBLIC PERCEPTION

The survey research of “Syrian Refugees in Public Perception” was conducted by contacting 1501 people above the age of 18 in 18 provinces between October 3-12, 2014. [3]  Among those contacted, 57.7% were married, 42,5% were single; 49.7% were female and 50.3% male. In the survey research, by asking about their first language, it is intended to obtain clues about ethnic features. Furthermore, observations were made regarding political party affiliations, age groups and differences between the provinces closer to the Syrian border and those out of the region through analysis of crosstabs. Questions are prepared in a way that will provide data assistance for the study of “Syrians in Turkey: Social Acceptance and Integration.” There are 31 questions to be responded by a 5-level “Likert item” (I strongly agree, I agree, I neither agree nor disagree, I disagree, I strongly disagree), 26 of which are related directly to the subject, 5 of which are about demographic information. Research was concluded within +/- 2.5 margin of error within a 0.95 confidence interval.

 

B-     FINDINGS OF THE RESEARCH SURVEY OF SYRIAN REFUGEES IN PUBLIC PERCEPTION[4]

Here are the general findings revealed by the survey research:

  • This research, which tries to measure the perception of Syrians in Turkish society, reveals that: Despite the effects and risks of hosting over 1.5 million Syrians in 3.5 years, which directly impact the daily life, social acceptance of Turkish society regarding the Syrians is extremely high.
  • If the attitude toward Syrians are evaluated in terms of political preferences, quite similar views are shared between the supporters of Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peace and Democracy Party-People’s Democratic Party (BDP-HDP), and between the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). When political views are determined through responses to the proposition of “Which party would you vote for if the elections were held today?” and these are associated with other prepositions, supporters of the AKP and BDP-HDP are observed to be more “protective” toward Syrians than those of the CHP-MHP.
  • It is fair to think that the issue of Kobani and the admission of Kurdish-origin Syrians in Turkey had a serious impact on the approach of the supporters of BDP-HDP during the times in which this research was conducted.
  • In the assessments, it is observed that no significant differences were detected between the provinces inside and outside the region. In case such differences go above 5%, separate evaluations are presented.
  • No distinct differences of perception are detected between age groups.

 

 

 

1.      Admission of Syrians and Basis of Admission:

 

In order to measure public perception concerning the admission of Syrians into Turkey as refugees, we principally tried to reach findings about the reasoning behind such admission. Here, it is remarkable that the most supported proposal with 64.6% is the one with humanitarian emphasis: “Admission of Syrians without any discrimination regarding their language, religion and ethnic background is a humanitarian obligation on our part.”  Maybe an even more significant response is given to the provocative proposal asserting that “the Refugees should be sent back to their country even though the war is ongoing.” Despite the 30.6% support for this proposal by Turkish people, the rate of those who opposed and refused is 57.8%. This attitude is very important both in terms of “sensitivity towards fundamental human rights” and “social acceptance”.  “Humanitarian” reasoning got stronger support when compared to “historical and geographical necessities”, “religious fraternity” and lastly “ethnic kinship” respectively. This attitude of a society that has accepted over 2.2 million Syrians in 4.5 years could be perceived as a promising picture for ”social acceptance”.
In order to understand the sensitivity and determination of Turkish people regarding Syrian refugees, responses given to two crucial questions reveal the extent of sensitivity and interest. The rate of those who disagree with the proposal of “Syrian refugees are not our concern. We should not be involved” is 45.8%, while those who agree is 41.6%. Similarly, the rate of those who disagree is higher than those who agree when it comes to another provocative controller question with the proposal of “Refugees should not have been admitted, as this is an intervention in the domestic affairs of Syria.” These results demonstrate a very positive picture in terms of acceptance of refugees despite their large numbers. Although Turkish people disagree with the proposal of “Syrian refugees are beneficial for our country”, the “humanitarian” attitude shown is remarkable. It can be deduced that the attitude shows a character of principle rather than that of opportunism.

2.      How are the Syrians in Turkey Described?

Among the answers to the question of “Which one below best describes your opinion regarding the Syrians in Turkey?”, responses of “People who escaped from persecution”, “Our guests in Turkey”, “Our brothers and sisters in religion” got 74% in total. Those who perceived Syrians as “People who are burden on us” or “Parasites-Beggars” got a mere 26%. The number of respondents that perceives Syrians as “People who escaped from violence” is the highest among the BDP-HDP supporters. Negative judgments are rather prevalent among the supporters of the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party).

“Which one below best describes your opinion regarding the Syrians in Turkey?

 

3.      Are Syrians Economically a Burden?

 

Some basic points of tension and refusal regarding the Syrian refugees are tested through several proposals. Here, it is understood that economic burdens are particularly important for Turkish society.  70.7% of the people shared the opinion that the Turkish economy has weakened due to Syrian refugees.  Additionally, those who are against providing aid for Syrians when there is poverty in Turkey comprise 60.1%. Turkish people demonstrated their objections about the money spent.

 

 

 

4.      Tendency to Engage in Personal Support for Syrians:

 

Regarding the support for Syrians, findings indicate that 31,7% of Turkish people somehow helped Syrians by providing material-moral support; however, 68.3% remained indifferent on the issue. This amount of 30,7% is surely significant considering that such extend of support is intensified in the region.

 

5.     Right to Work:

 

One of the most disputed aspects of Syrian refugees is their right to labor. Syrians, who were assisted by donations in Turkey or counted on their own resources for a period, stated their desire to engage in working life and make their own living as that period has extended. This increased tension among people working closer to the border regions. Occasionally, the discontent of local people who feel threatened by losing their jobs due to the influx of cheap labor is transformed into protests or even assaults. In that regard, several propositions are offered in the survey research to measure general perceptions on right to labor. 56.1% of Turkish people agree with the proposal asserting that “Syrians take our jobs.” 30.5% disagree. In the provinces closer to region, that rate goes as higher as 68.9%, which could be anticipated.
In response to the question “Which one below best describes your opinion about Syrian labor?” it is observed that almost half (47.4%) of the people clearly have a “negative” attitude. Local people get rather sympathetic to the idea when limitations based on occupation or duration are applied. Those who agree to grant Syrians permission to work in any occupation for an unspecified duration are a mere 5.4%. In that regard, the relation between provinces in and out of the region is remarkable. “They should not be granted work permits” got 44% in the provinces in the region, while surprisingly the same question got a higher response of 48% in the provinces out of the region. “Working in any occupation without restriction” received just 2.1% support in the region and 6.1% out of the region.

6.      Education

 

Considering the fact that more than 54.2% of Syrians (over 700.000)  in Turkey are children and youth below 18, perhaps the most pressing problems to be faced in the middle and long terms is access to education. UNICEF reported that 73% of Syrian children do not attend school. This lost generation must be regained in education. Unlike the case in the right to labor, society pays greater interest in providing education for Syrian children. Despite the resistance towards admission of Syrians in Turkish universities without examination—due to the already distressed conditions of Turkish candidates—results are generally promising. 72,5% of people supported various sorts of education, while 27.5% raised the opinion that “They should be provided with no education at all.

7.      Social Tension

 

Survey research examined perceptions on the demonstrations and “protests” of 2014 involving assaults against Syrians, which took place in several provinces, such as Ankara, Adana, and Gaziantep.

First, it is intended to reveal the general opinion through the proposition of “Syrian refugees disturb the peace and cause depravity of public morals by being involved in crimes, such as violence, theft, smuggling and prostitution.” 62.2% of Turkish society agrees with the proposal, while those who disagree are 23.1%. The amount of agreement is doubled in the provinces of the region. As the age goes up, the rate of agreement increases.

As a response to the question of “Strong reactions took place against the refugees in several cities on the grounds that some Syrian people committed crimes. What do you think about that?” it is remarkable that half of society (47.5%) thought reactions were “right” and “supported” them. Those who thought reactions were right but excessive are 26.1%, and those who thought reactions and assaults were “wrong” is 13.9%. In the provinces of the region, the rate of those who think reactions were right is 52.3%, while in the provinces out of the region that is 46.7%. The rate of those who think the reactions were right is highest among people who would vote for the MHP in an election, and the rate of those who think reactions were wrong is highest among those would vote for the BDP-HDP. In terms of age groups, those who stress on the responsibility of state and rightness of protests are located to 55+ age group.

8.      Approach towards the Permanence of Syrians in Turkey

 

In the framework of the research headed “Syrians in Turkey: Social Acceptance and Integration”, predictions and expectations of Turkish people concerning the stay of Syrians are examined under the general topic of “In case the war in Syria drags on, which policy should Turkey pursue?”.  The proposition that closely relates all the research and perception is formulated as “Syrians should be sent back to their country even though the war is ongoing.” Those who responded “I agree” and “I strongly agree” are only 30.6% together. A greater portion of 62.8% of Turkish people expressed their disagreement with the proposal. The result is valuable and important in terms of showing the state of mind in a country that hosted over 2.2-2.5 million Syrians in 4.5 years. Interestingly, the rate of disagreement with the proposal is lower in the provinces of the region, where people face more concrete and direct problems concerning the Syrians. In terms of political party affiliations, this proposal got the lowest support from proponents of the BDP-HDP, as they opposed deportation by 80.6%. Arabic-speaking people, thus thought to be Arabs, expressed higher support for “deportation”.

When the “state of war” is excluded from the proposal and is reformulated as “Refugees are not a concern of Turkey and they should be sent back to their country.”38.9%agree and 47.8% disagree. The “state of war” seems to be an important aspect for Turkish people.
The arrival of more Syrians hereafter is perceived as negatively by Turkish people as expected, yet31.7% still support the admission of newcomers from Syria. In terms of the culture of acceptance, this rate is significant when the current situation and capacity are taken into consideration. Resistance to the arrival of new refugees is higher in the provinces of the region.

Turkish people commonly share the opinion that “Syrians who stay in Turkey may cause major problems.” The rate of those who responded “I strongly agree” and “I agree” are 76.5% in total. It is higher in the provinces of the region (81.7%). Within the political party spectrum, that view is mostly common among supporters of the MHP, followed by the CHP and the AKP respectively, while the least concern is observed among BDP-HDP supporters. (50%)

According to these observations, the general will of Turkish people is that Syrians should not be spread all over the country, but sheltered in camps. Support for the proposal of “Refugees should only be sheltered in the camps.” is 72.6%.  In the region, that demands goes up to 80.2%. A similar attitude is evident in the responses toward the proposal of “Refugees should be sheltered in camps to be built in a buffer zone on Syrian soil along the border” for which the rate of support is 68.8%, while the rate of those who are against is a mere 18.1%. The BDP-HDP proponents are widely against this proposal. The Kobani incident of September-October 2014 is thought to be in line with that. However, responses to both of these proposals indicate that Turkish people are not pleased about Syrian presence out of the camps. As it is inconceivable for 1.4 million Syrians to be sheltered in the camps, policymakers should address such sensibilities.

9.      Predictions on Coexistence and “Neighborhood”

Research findings have indicated a different perception than the widely referred to similarities between Turkish and Syrian people in terms of religious and ethnic properties, sharing a long 911km border. Turkish society is not so sympathetic with the idea that “We are culturally akin to Syrians”. Those who support this proposal are 17.2%. Those who think we are culturally distinct are as high as 70.6%. As is known, Syrians who arrived before 2014 were widely comprised of Sunni-Arabs. After ISIS came into equation in 2014, other Syrians, such as Yazidis (Ezidi), Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds and Alawites arrived and significant alterations took place in the ethno-religious picture.  Despite little differentiation of the BDP-HDP supporters on the idea that we are “akin” to Syrians, no significant difference in perception can be reported.  When compared to the 17.2% support for the “cultural proximity” proposal, assumptions expressed to explain admission of Syrians in Turkey like “religious fraternity” (52.9%) and “ethnic kinship” (42.1%) lose their relevance.

 

One of the important questions inquired in the research is “Would you be disturbed to have a Syrian as your neighbor?” It is observed that half of society responded “yes” (49.8%) and the other half responded “no” (50.2%). Those who answered yes were then asked “Why would you be disturbed to have a Syrian as your neighbor?” Here, the findings are remarkable. 52.3% of the Turkish people expressed that they would not be pleased to have a Syrian neighbor due to the “concern that Syrians may do harm to their family or their person.”  Interestingly, that perception got higher rates out of the region, which is basically indicative of a perception problem. With a rate of 15.9%, the second most prominent reason expressed by Turkish people is that they do not feel culturally close to Syrians. When compared to those out of the region, people in the region feel slightly more distant to Syrians.

10.  Citizenship

 

One of the striking results of “Syrian Refugees in Public Perception Survey Research” is related to the citizenship. Despite embracing Syrians, Turkish people are widely against conferment of citizenship. Support for the proposition “Refugees should be conferred Turkish citizenship” got only 7.7 %. A clear refusal is expressed by 84.5%, which is an unmatched result among all cases of this research. When this is analyzed in terms of political party spectrum, it is observed that there is no significant difference in the attitudes on citizenship. Conclusion is that this could be a politically risky area which should be taken in consideration for developing policies of integration in future.

 

11.  Views of Turkish Society Concerning the Permanence of Syrians


Through several proposals in the survey research, the study titled “Syrians in Turkey: Social Acceptance and Integration, has attempted to explain Turkish people’s opinions of coexistence and predictions on the prospects of over 1.5 million Syrians who have been in Turkey for 3.5 years by now. As a first step, Turkish people’s perceptions of Syrian permanence is investigated. Findings are striking on “the aftermath of the war in Syria”. It is reported that 45.1% of Turkish society expect all Syrians to return home. The remaining 54.9% think that Syrians will stay in Turkey either partially or wholly. This means that more than half of the Turkish society believes that Syrians will stay in Turkey in some way or another.

It should be emphasized that opinions here display no significant distinction between provinces in/out of the region, political affiliations or age groups.

The expectation regarding the permanence of Syrians is of vital importance for the prospects of coexistence. In line with that, strong support for the proposal of “Syrian presence in Turkey may cause severe problems“ is noteworthy.

 

Expectations regarding Syrians being integrated into Turkish society are on quite limited levels. A related proposal hada similar amount of support as the “cultural proximity” question. A serious segment of Turkish people (66.9%) does not believe that Syrians would be integrated into Turkish society. In terms of integration, the AKP (27.8%) and BDP-HDP (35.6%) voters are rather hopeful.

The proposal formulated as “Refugees should be provided countrywide residence and policies should be developed addressing their employment and integration.” had 38.2% support. However, a larger amount of 47% thinks that integration strategies are unnecessary. This is the result of demoralization and a lack of hope in society. The increasing Syrian population in Turkey sometimes triggers claims that this is a deliberate state policy on demographics. A proposal was formulated regarding the possible association between Syrians and President Erdoğan’s frequently expressed request to produce “3 children” as a condition to form “a strong state”.   However, the proposal that a “Population increase through Syrians will lead Turkey to be a stronger country.” had little support (12.3%). The rate of those who disagree with the idea that the contribution of Syrians will lead to a stronger state is 70.6%.

12.  Social Sensitivity and Crisis Management

The proposal that “Turkish people embraced Syrian Refugees” was asked in order to reach evidence on the interest and support for Syrians in Turkey, as this proposal had enormous support of 79%, where the rate of those who disagree is only 9.8%. This indicates that Turkish people think “they did their part”.

An important aspect of the Syrian crisis is its management. The proposition of “The state displayed efficient management concerning the refugees.” was included in the survey research in order to understand the perception of society on crisis management. 31.8% of Turkish people agree with the proposal, while 49.7% are dissatisfied. Here, there is a huge gap between those who vote for the AKP and those who do not. Also, the approach regarding state performance is rather negative in the region than out of it.

 

 

Conclusion

 

It no longer seems possible to base Turkey’s Syrian policy on “temporariness”.  Actions that are postponed, halted or neglected due to the expectation of “temporariness” may bring severe problems in future. Therefore, while doing what should be done through domestic and foreign policy for Syrians to return home, it is necessary to recognize that a significant proportion of them will stay in Turkey permanently and strategies of coexistence must be developed in line with that. While making strategies of that sort, especially during the management of dynamic process, a science-based approach should be embraced by utilizing the knowledge and counsel of experts, academicians, NGOs, international institutions and organizations. It is of vital importance that the strategies related to “permanence” should be human and rights based, and the support of Turkish society should be gained. It is not the time for holding someone accountable-guilty, rather it is the time for a human and rights based resolution for the sake of the future of Turkey.

 

 

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ONLINE REFERENCES

http://www.sde.org.tr/tr/authordetail/suriye-post-hegemonik-duzenin-ilk-isareti-mi/1072

http://www.orsam.org.tr/en/enUploads/Article/Files/201452_189ing.pdf

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http://www.tesev.org.tr/assets/publications/file/Dogan_Ertugrul_TESEV_Suriye%20Krizi.pdf

http://www.unhcr.org.tr/uploads/root/m%C3%BCltecilerin_hukuki_statusune_%C4%B0li%C5%9Fkin_s%C3%B6zle%C5%9Fme.pdf

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http://www.unhcr.org.tr/uploads/root/bm_m%C3%BCltwciler_y%C3%BCksek_komiseri.pdf

[1] This article based on the report of HUGO study headed “Syrians in Turkey: Social Acceptance and Integration”. The report published in detail but with same title as a book by Bilgi University Press in February 2015.

[2]There are people in the region who describe themselves with their religious or ethnic identities (Arab, Kurd, Sunni, Alawite) instead of “Turk”. Therefore, concept of “local people” seems academically relevant.

[3]Survey Research is applied by Ankara-based Optimar Research Company

[4]The public opinion research is conducted with answers given to statements through “5 point likert scale” technique. In order to provide a general view, the option of “neither agree nor disagree” is eliminated. The options of “I strongly agree”-“I agree” and “I strongly disagree”-“I disagree” are evaluated as one.

Visits: 226

INTERVIEW ON THE FINAL STATUS OF CYPRUS SEYFI TAŞHAN – REŞAT ARIM / NOVEMBER 29TH, 2011

Interview on the final status of CYPRUS

Seyfi TAŞHAN – Reşat ARIM / November 29th, 2011

Seyfi Taşhan : In January the United Nations Security General has invited  the leaders of two communities in Cyprus.  One of the leader is so called president of Cyprus . The other one is the head of the Turkish Community. They are supposed to discuss the future of Cyprus on the basis equal footing and political equality. So I believe there is something essentially wrong to conduct negotiations on such a funny way.  The Turkish side had absolute goodwill to express themselves in the referendum during the Kofi Annan proposal in 2004. I would like to discuss the issue and prospect of negotiations process with Ambassador Reşat Arım. Ambassador Arım what are the chances and what are the prospects?

Reşat Arım :  The Turkish side since 1974 they have their own authority. The Turkish side is not as badly dispersed on the island as before. Regions came together and there is certain territory defended by the Turkish military. They have created their own administration Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. They have their government . But they also have goodwill and they conduct inter communal turks. So it was first Mr. Talat who was president and he conduct with Mr. Papadopoulos and then Mr. Hristofyas. Several committees were created for discussions.  I should they have obtained some progress on certain issues. But the main issues is the limitation of territory. In which the Turkish side lives.And the other one is relations between the Guarantor Powers. The priority of guarantors  have been certainly discussed  the conclusion should be with guarantor power  Turkey, as far as Turkish side is concerned.

Seyfi Taşhan : I would like to pick up two points from what you said. The issue of  the limitation of boundaries between two states and also properties. What are the advantages of isolating each other and to form a single state of Cyprus.  A confederation or a type of  union? What are the benefits, what they call identity of interest.  At the moment I see no other identity of interest, except that they both are islanders. And they both want to live in the island, but that’s not enough to reach an understanding.  What do you think are the chances or expectation of both sides from agreement?

Reşat Arım : I think that the Turkish side can only prepare for the final decision of the mainland Turkey. Of course  for many years discussion are going on between two communities and I don’t think there is anything clear enough for the two parties.  So it’s probably one of the last chances.

Seyfi Taşhan :  What would the Greek Cypriots expect with the solution of Cyprus problem,  on an equal basis? Is there any advantage for them?

Reşat Arım :  For the Greek cypriots it would mean the end of pre eminence in government affairs. They have government in their own hands.  Any agreement  would be having the Turkish cypriots also in the government. They would lose their prerogatives.

Seyfi Taşhan : Then, we are starting from completely opposite positions. Turkish cypriots wish to reach agreement for several reasons. Because at the moment they have an unrecognised state except Turkey. They hope to be recognized even as part of Republic of Cyprus, and to join the EU and excpect certain benefits . Most important is the ambargoes that are being imposed on them. So that is a positive reason . But there is no positive reason for the Greek side.  Without those positive reasons would the pressure of the Secretary General of the United Nations enough or  who could provide anything to on the Greek side to make what they call sharing power in Cyprus with Turks?

Reşat Arım : As far as the Greek cypriots are concerned there is no benefit in power sharing agreement with the Turkish cypriots. On the other hand Turkish cypriots still try to find a formula where by as a government join to the EU with the Greek cypriots. In this way probably Greece’s  enosis dream would be ended. Because in the EU it wouldn’t be possible to have enosis in the island.

Seyfi Taşhan : So let’s think about the attitude of two leaders. Mr. Hristofyas will go there probably try to gain time, make unacceptable demands on Turks. Particularly young people don’t want  to  reach an agreement with the Turks. So that’s the situation. I don’ t think he can do anything. But go on delaying  tactic. Do you agree?

Reşat Arım : Of course Mr. Hristofyas will probably play with time and as you said Mr. Taşhan delaying tactics to gain time.Probably that would be deadlock. They can’t do much to change the situation. Turkish Cypriots admister a certain territory. As far as the Greek cypriots are concerned this is a loss for them. It would be a face saving for the Greek cypriots to come to an agreement.

Seyfi Taşhan:  It would be a face saving. But in reality they wouldn’t want it. So if they wouldn’t want it such a formula would not be an operative. Anyway if we go to that point if there is a deadlock in January over the issues as you said land and governance. That may be a problem of the guarantee and the guarantee question cannot be resolved by cypriots alone so the secretary general may attempt to transfer to burden of negotiations to an international conference. Can you imagine an international conference composition? What could be the composition of an international conference?

Reşat ARIM: This is a very specific question. The interest of the four parties are there, the two main lands and two communities. The composition of the conference should not go beyond that very much.

Seyfi TAŞHAN: Who would they be?

Reşat ARIM: A major power like the United States.

Seyfi TAŞHAN: The United States did everything possible not to get involved in the Cyprus issue. If the United States was really involved, that could be helpful for a solution? But instead, Ambassador Holbrooke turned the problem over to the European Union which made a mess out of it. So, the United States and the European Union cannot be a valuable interlocutor in such a conference. Do you agree with that?

Reşat ARIM: Yes of course. You have a good point there. If we keep the United States and European Union out of this international conference; so we have to keep it to minimum, than to the four interested parties.

Seyfi Taşhan: Do you think that four parties like in 1959 – 1960 could reach an agreement? Or probably United Kingdom could come in as well.

Reşat Arım: It is very difficult to exclude the United Kingdom which is a guarantor power. They have a party to the treaty of guarantee.

Seyfi TAŞHAN: The European Union must act somehow Greek Cypriots will become the president of the community in the second half of 2012. Turkey threatened that it would stop relations during the Greek Cypriot presidency period. It may not cause much harm, this was done before in the past as well. The relation with European Union was frozen sometimes. What can European Union positively do with Greece and Greek Cypriots to contribute to the solution of the problem in Cyprus.

Reşat ARIM: There is only one thing to bring the question to zero point. These are restrictions, embargoes on the Turkish Cypriots. They can eliminate these things. They can create a tabula rasa for any negotiations between the four powers, the two communities and the two mainlands. Because only the mainlands can convince the communities to accept anything in the Cyprus state.

Seyfi TAŞHAN: When Makarios signed the London agreement. He did it rather with great reluctance. And two and half year after he had tried to change whole thing. Three years later he took an illegal action to terminate those treaties. Do you thing that Athens can be persuasive on Hristophias and the Greek community this time to reach an agreement with the Turks?

Reşat ARIM: I think the situation is a little bit different. Because when Makarios signed the agreements with reluctance, it was Cold War conditions. After so many years of negotiations Greece should have understood that pursuing Enosis policy, would not be something achievable.  In any case the status quo in the island Turkish cypriots having their own territory, their own administration (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) can not be negated.

Seyfi Taşhan: I agree Enosis is finished. The leverage of Athens on Nicosia will be  much less.

Reşat ARIM: Yes of course.

Seyfi Taşhan: Greek economy is in a terrible shape. Greek cypriots are in a better position even slightly better position. I believe at the moment Greece is not in a position to say anything about the resolution of the Cyprus question. Unlike Turkey. Turkey would be helpful. Therefore sharing the Eastern Mediterranean sharing of power in Cyprus. Cyprus is more depended on Turkey than Greece at the moment.

Reşat ARIM: We can also look at the larger picture. All the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.  To have a major island like Cyprus disputed between the Turks and Greeks. This would not create a good example for all the other three thousand islands of Greece in the Mediterranean. Cyprus issue is a burning issue which shows the experiment of Greece trying to achieve Enosis on one of the island in Eastern Mediterranean was defeated;  so this is a bad example for the foreign policy of Greece to go on for years without a solution. If I were in the place of the Greek government I would better close this chapter as soon as possible and finish with it.

SeyfiTaşhan: They may …. Without attempting to solve a problem that is the danger I think. Greece may prefer to stay aloof and saying that just they have been doing so far.

ReşatArım: It is a fact that Greece doesn’t have much leverage on the greek cypriots but they are a party to the treaties of Cyprus.

Seyfi Taşhan: therefore,  I can say that Greece may become a party to the international conference. I don’t think they would wish to have positive or persuasive role during the discussions. Again we are coming to the other point of the international conference. The Conference may Prolong burning international issue. Can the British do something about it.

Reşat Arım: The british, the most they could do was to prepare the Annan plan. So they were not very successful on this. Probably they also would not.

Seyfi Taşhan: To conclude our little discussion we have to accept the continuation of the dispute in the island for the longer period. We have to face the impact of this situation on Turkey’s relations with the EU and we need to make the Turkish Republic in the island stronger and wealthier. I believe that is the only way for Turkey.  Because it seems chronic disputes cannot be resolved quickly. Look at all chronic disputes in the world, nothing has been resolved particularly if they involved territory.

Visits: 220

RECENT ECONOMIC SITUATION IN GREECE – INTERVIEW WITH ASSIST. PROF. DIMITRIS TSAROUHAS, (APRIL 19TH 2010)

RECENT ECONOMIC SITUATION IN GREECE

Interview with Assist. Prof. Dimitris Tsarouhas, April 19th 2010

What do you think are the causes of the economic crisis in Greece?

The causes are many and the current crisis only one expression of the structural economic problems Greece’s has. I would say that the fundamental problem is a chronic lack of competitiveness which has eventually burst out into the open following Greece’s entry into the Eurozone area.  Entry into the Eurozone area has instead of becoming a motivation for the improvement Greece’s economic performance has in some respect become an excuse not to implement reforms that have been long overdue. These reforms are many and, in fact, should not be limited to the economic sphere only. When it comes to the economy itself we are fundamentally talking about the need to make both the public and private sector work more efficiently. That is something that has not happened in Greece and I believe at the heart of the current problems of Greece is this chronic lack of competitiveness, as it has been manifested over the last few years.

The EU wants to seem to be in control over the situation and the Germans have been cryptic in their announcements, but they finally agreed to the idea of offering Greece a loan. Do you think the situation in Greece will lead to any serious disagreements in the European Union?  Will it cause problems in inter-EU relations and in the functioning of the Eurozone? There are upcoming elections in some EU countries; will Greece become a part of the election rhetoric? 

There are two things to mention. First of all, this is not a bilateral loan. What has been agreed upon both in late March and then again in early April is that the EU would come to the rescue of the Greek economy should the Greek economy, i.e. the Greek government, be unable to raise funds in the open market. This is not a bilateral loan and the Greek government has repeatedly said that it is not after a bilateral loan.

Secondly, I would agree with the assessment that disagreements have risen between Germany and the other countries in the Eurozone. I would say that there has been a clear disagreement and here the issue is not Greece anymore. Here the issue is the Eurozone. The German government has taken the position that any Eurozone economy which finds itself in difficulty – it happens to be Greece now it could have been Spain or Portugal, and in fact it maybe Spain and Portugal in the future – should find the way out themselves. The predominant opinion in the EU, and one which I also share, is that within the Eurozone mechanisms of assistance are necessary, not because anyone wants to bail out any particular economy – in this case, the Greek economy – and of course no tax payer wants to bail out the failings of another economy.  Greece’s fundamental economic problem is one which it needs to sort out itself.  However, here we are talking about the functioning of the Eurozone and the credibility of the Eurozone’s own common currency. The vast majority of the opinions, as expressed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and by the vast majority of EU member states and Eurozone states is that when a country finds itself in difficulty, there needs to be a mechanism of assistance so that the credibility of the Euro in the international market will not go down and the Eurozone economy, as whole, is not going to suffer. So, yes, there is a disagreement there, there is a misunderstanding on the part of Germany – or there possibly a failing on the part of the current German government to appreciate the need for a mechanism that will build on a certain amount of sovereignty so as to help not Greece, Spain or Portugal individually but Eurozone collectively.

Why can they not see it? They probably can, but the answer is very much related to internal politics and the fact that the current German coalition government composed of the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats are suffering from a lack of direction, a lack of popularity and it has upcoming local elections, in which its opinion poll ratings seem to be quite low. So the idea of creating an image according to which Germany somehow going to be asked to bail out Greece is a very comfortable image and I am sure it sells well domestically, but it does not do much to help the Eurozone.

Greece was offered 30 billion Euros by Eurozone members and the IMF also offered to pitch in another 15 billion Euros. Should the loans be insufficient to alleviate Greece’s economic problems, might Greece seek money from other sources in the future?

Yes. First of all let me clarify that I am not familiar with the details of the last few days the picture I left this prior to our conversation was a mixed representation group featuring IMF and EU would be coming to Athens but they might have been delayed because of the ash-cloud. They were meant to go to Greece today and speak with the respective ministers to decide on the details of how a possible package would look like. So, both the amount of money you mentioned and the actual mechanisms are not clear to me and I do not wish to take position on an issue I do not know all the details of. What I can say is that Greece has a large debt to defend and the debt runs, to a very large extent, until May for the year 2010. However, we are also talking about tens billions of Euros of debt that need to be supported for 2011 and 2012 as well. My assumption is, and I am sure the Greek government has worked this out; any kind of package will be fairly medium-term. There is going to be a need to cover financial needs over the next 2-3 years.

Will the funds be enough? Goodness knows. My prediction is that they will be, for one simple reason: if this package was to be made available in terms that would allow the Greek state to borrow with reasonable interest rates, I think that would be enough. I do not think any extra measures would be necessary. I think the Greek government has taken enough measures on the domestic front to raise revenues and it is to be hoped that this will happen. With regard to the debt it needs to defend, I think that such a package would be a good deal. However, to me it seems to be very important to understand what the nature of the problem is. The nature of the problem is not an attempt by Greece to be bailed out – this is not what the Greek government is requesting. What the Greek government is requesting, and legitimately, that it be allowed to borrow – no state aid – in the open market with normal interest rates. The picture we have had is one of utter amazement and confusion, because despite the repeated messages being sent out by the European Union that it is ready to come to Greece’s aid, the markets refuse to reduce the interest rate on the basis of which they lend money to the Greek state. We are talking about interest rates which are clear robbery: 6-7%; in some respects, hundreds of millions of Euros extra. There is a speculative game being played out and Greece is the first victim of this in the Eurozone. I hope not that others will follow. This game has been based primarily on two pillars. The first one is the unregulated free market, which is a dogma the Europeans are now paying dear. Secondly, the absence of mechanisms within the Eurozone to prevent such speculation from taking place. That is the nature of the problem and is what the Eurozone economies and the Greek government has to face. It is only to be hoped that the problem will be solved the problem in a way that will make sense for all of them.

Have you been to Greece recently? What is going in Greece, domestically? What do the Greeks think about the current economic situation and the EU?

I have not been to Greece in recent months but from what I read, the people are very disappointed with the fact that their economic conditions are getting worse. They are angry at the political establishment and by that I mean both previous governments and the current one. On the basis of the latest data that I have seen, they are not very optimistic about the future. They believe that the future, at least over the next 3-4 years, is going to be much worse than the recent past. That, of course, is to be expected. It is something that happens in all such occasions when a crisis is revealed. I should also add the public is very much worried precisely because it sees that the economic prospects for the future are very bleak. This is not simply about the present. I am afraid that most people believe, or have reason to believe, that the effects of the austerity measures the Greek government has taken are going to start hitting in the next few months and in a few years to come. They have not yet hit the Greek economy. When they start doing so, things will be gravely seriously and I think the people can foresee this. They can see that the tax measures that have been taken and the budget cuts will all hit them in the years to come. The consequences will be very large and I am afraid quite dramatic in some cases.

Visits: 97

A GENERAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE MIDDLE EAST (INTERVIEW WITH PROF. MELIHA ALTUNIŞIK – HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT OF METU),(MAY, 2007)

Introduction and Question: Our topic now is the Middle East, a general perspective and perspectives for the near future. The speaker will be Prof. Meliha Altunışık. Head of the International Relations Department of the Middle East Technical University. My first question goes to her: There are quite a number of developments, some which are chronic and some of which flare up from time to time. I would like to refer basically to two questions. One of them is Iraq. Second is Lebanon

The Most Complex Problem – Iraq

MELİHA ALTUNIŞIK – Let us start with Iraq first. It is the most complex problem, I think, in the Middle East, albeit it is relatively new compared to, for instance, the Palestinian issue. In Iraq there are various issues and some of them are quite important for Turkey. Of course one issue is the issue of security. The security issue has not been resolved and it is going worse and worse. Related to that there is the issue of Shiite-Sunni conflict,, a civil war between the two sects which also is a detrimental factor in the regional politics as well, considering the relations between Shiites and Sunnis from different countries, particularly in the Gulf. There is the issue of political process and there are serious problems with that. What happens is that the whole political context is very much defined in terms of identities, religious identities and ethnic identities. So the political context was framed in that way. Therefore, politics is the politics of identities. This has been very detrimental. What happens is that all these communities are defining their interests in very exclusive terms and there is no win-win situation but there is zero sum game! My gain is the other’s loss. There is no ground for compromise. We have seen this in many issues, for instance the debate about federalism, the debate about Kirkuk issue, the faith of Kirkuk. The Kurds of Iraq have a very exclusivist position there. Similarly, we have seen this in the discussions of the Natural Resources Law. The communities there, unfortunately, because of how the politics are organized, they are adopting these very uncompromising positions. This is also very detrimental for Iraq and unfortunately there are not any external powers who could use their leverage to force them, force these communities to reach a compromise on the issues. When you look at the international community, the EU does not have any leverage on Iraq, the US is still the most important actor but it is not using the leverage that it has over the parties. So, in all these political issues we also have a deadlock. This is another problem. And in terms of the political process, there is the exclusion of the Sunnis from the political process and this is quite probable. There is the issue of what will happen to US presence. There is increasing expectation that the US is preparing to leave, at least parts of Iraq. Presidential election season is starting in the US. There are pressures on the US administration. We have seen what happened in the Congressional elections. Iraq was one of the issues. When US will withdraw and how it will withdraw, what will this mean in terms of security and stability in Iraq and the political situation in Iraq and even the territorial integrity of Iraq? These are all the questions out there. Similarly you have the problem of intervention of outside powers, particularly Iran has a tremendous influence in the Iraqi scene and this is creating further problems for Iraq. So the situation is very complex, still very volatile. It is hard for me to see that these conflicts will be resolved any time soon. I think, as Turkey we have to prepare ourselves to live with Iraq that is in turmoil in the coming decade or so. That is what we should expect.

Presence of PKK

Question – Of course, some of these developments in Iraq, particularly the presence of PKK in the Northern region and the possibility of the establishment of an independent Kurdish state with its implications on Turkey, Iran and partly Syria forces Turkey to adopt a certain political stand on the issue. What do you think will be the outcome? If these PKK attacks keep continuing on Turkey, could Turkey indefinitely stay put without doing anything to what is happening in Northern Iraq? What do you think?

MELİHA ALTUNIŞIK – You are very right. Actually there are problems for Turkey since 1991, these are not new and Turkey has been trying to deal with these problems by using different tools since 1991. Of course there is the presence of PKK and this gives PKK enormous powers, logistical power in terms of armaments and things like that and training. This has implications for Turkey. Plus the possibility of a Kurdish state is considered as a development that will have implications for Turkey. The attitudes of Kurdish leaders are problematic as well, particularly Barzani. I find it quite unhealthy that Barzani is trying to build a Kurdish nationalism based on Turkish hostility. He is making the Turks as the “other” in trying to build a Kurdish identity which is very dangerous. This may bring him points domestically and he is playing to his domestic audience as well vis-à-vis Talabani in trying to show himself more nationalistic, to oppose the Turks and Turkey, etc. But this is, in the long run, very detrimental for them as well. After all, we are neighbours and we have to learn to live with each other. I think this is not a wise policy. So, this policy also exacerbates the reactions in Turkey, particularly in a year like 2007 when the elections will be held. This affects nationalism in Turkey as well. So, it is not a wise policy on their side as well. Whether there can be a possibility of intervention? Even before this was not being discussed, I always thought that there could be a possibility. People talked about the EU impact and other things, economic consequences, etc. They are fine. But this issue is very important for Turkey as well. If the PKK attacks continue to accelerate, as particularly like the ones we had in Ankara, for instance, and we have learned that similar attacks were stopped in Istanbul and Adana, for instance, if these continue to accelerate there would be a lot of pressure on the policy makers as well to take drastic measures and so I would not rule out completely this possibility of such an intervention. Although what type of intervention is something that can change, some kind of intervention is a possibility, if these attacks continue. That would have negative consequences for Turkey as well, unfortunately. So, I hope that it would be avoided. But I think the US should see this and should effectively work on these issues. There is this perception in Turkey that somehow the US is not doing enough on these issues. It is not just for Turkey but for stability in this region, too, the US should use its leverage on the Kurdish groups as well and to take effective and real measures in dealing with these problems.

How to Balance Turkey’s Interests and Relations with Allies

Question – Well, of course, you are absolutely right. But what seems to happen is that, Mr. Barzani is being met in Washington in the White House as President of Kurdistan and all that, I believe that US has certain contribution to the creation of a so called Kurdistan concept. Also former British imperial policy of creating a Kurdish State in the region and European assistance to PKK, which is already documented, that casts Turkey in a very difficult position. On one side it has its own allies, on the other side its own interests. So, there is a conflict of interest arising. Wouldn’t you think that it may effect Turkey’s relations with the West in general, as well?

MELİHA ALTUNIŞIK – Definitely. Especially the issues related with Iraq and within that context the Kurdish issue has been affecting Turkey-US relations in particular, since 1991, not only today, despite the fact that in 1990’s we talked about a strategic partnership with the US. But Iraq issue is eroding Turkish-US relations, eroding the trust between the two longstanding allies, even then. This has accelerated in recent years. I believe that the US officials should understand that , why is there anti-Americanism in Turkey, what is happening in Turkey? This is the main reason. Iraq issue is the crux of the problem for Turkey and Turkey feels that the US does not think that way. Somehow, Iraqi Kurds, US’s allies now because it is the only stable region in Iraq and the US does not want to affect its relations with these groups but, never the less, Turkey is a very important country. And Turkey’s importance goes beyond the Middle East. It is not just the Middle East. I was just talking with some American experts the other day. They were asking me, what is this strategic significance of Turkey to the US? I said, I can tell you about the importance of Turkey. But Turkey has a strategic importance which goes beyond that region. We have to realize today that that there is some sole searching within the Muslim World. There is real competition for leadership. What direction the Muslim World should take? Iran clearly represents one model there. Look at Ahmedinejad. Iran today is no longer a Gulf power, also a Mediterranean power via Lebanon. We will talk about that country later. Iran is trying to be the leader of the Muslin World. Ahmedinejad talks in Indonesia, in Malaysia, talking in those terms, “we and them”. Turkey here represents something else. Turkey represents, “You can be Muslim but secular at the same time. You can be Muslim and democratic at the same time. You can be Muslim and be part of the Western institutions at the same time.” This is the most strategic thing you can get, in this day and age.

Secularity is the Key for Modernity

Question – We have shifted a little from Iraq. But it is very important. I think that there is a misconception that there can be a “mild Islam” in Turkey, that there can be a “mild Islam” in Jordan, there can be a “mild Islam” here and there. And it does not matter whether mild Islam produces anything for the people. But mild Islam and human rights, equality of genders, democracy and rule of law can only be achieved in an Islamic country if there is secularity. Secularism is the key for modernity, key for economic development, key to social development. I believe we have to explain a lot on this subject to our Western friends. Because they think that mild Islam is something that is granted because when one person is Moslem the whole national system is considered as a Moslem entity. However, this Moslem entity can be mild or violent. This Moslem entity cannot be a static entity but it may develop in mild or violent directions, The religion is personal affair in Turkey and that is the model. I think that model if it is thoroughly understood by our Western friends we may teach them something. Let us go back what you were saying about Lebanon and Syria. Of course, Syria is smarting because it was forced to get out of Lebanon and Syria is considered as an ally of Iran. They are both considered as rogue states by the US. But we are in the region. So what is our perception for Syria, Lebanon and to a certain extent for Iran?

How About Syria and Lebanon?

MELİHA ALTUNIŞIK – Well in terms of Syria, Turkey-Syrian relations have developed quite well, especially since 1998 when we had the crisis over the return Ocalan and then we signed the Adana Agreement, and after 2003 they got much better, I think Turkey basically argues that we have to engage Syria. I think that is a smart policy. It is a smart policy in the sense that this engagement by help in creating a rift in Syria Iranian alliance. This alliance is very detrimental for the region as a whole because of the crisis in Lebanon this alliance assumes a destructive importance. So if this Syrian,-Iranian alliance can be brought to an end this would also have repercussions for the Palestinian conflict and for Lebanon. I think Syria by trying to start the peace process with Israel etc. and by opening up to Turkey has given the signals that it is ready to cooperate. I think that is some thing that should be tried. The other thing is that in terms of Lebanon of course Syria feels cornered therefore tries to create difficulties for US in Iraq and Lebanon, and in that it cooperates with Iran. Both of these states are considered rogue states and are targeted accordingly. It is a classical power game. So I think there are possibilities for engaging Syria in regional politics, like in the case 1990s. In Lebanon of course there are various dynamics that are going on. Actually in the North, around Tripoli we have been noticing that there are some increasing Sunni radicalization for some time now. Generally when Lebanon is considered, there is a lot of emphasis on Hizbullah which is a Shiite radical movement. These last events are related to Sunni radicalization around Tripoli. There are also speculations about Syrian involvement and that may be the case. Because it makes sense in terms of balance of power in the region. There are various conflicts in Lebanon; some of them are of domestic nature that makes Lebanon a very interesting place. There is a contractual system but it is based on the balance of confessional percentages. Therefore, there is a constant struggle in Lebanon in terms of economic and political power sharing. All these groups are vying for the bigger part of the cake, if I may say so. In reality Lebanon has historically been an arena of competition among regional powers as well. So there are two levels of conflict and external powers have also tried to settle their accounts in Lebanon. The same thin g is also happening today. Your have on the one hand US and Israel and on the other Iran and Syria, are trying to settle their scores in Lebanon. Actually Lebanese actors are only a part of this struggle. Hizbullah’s struggle last summer was clearly in these terms, not just a war Lebanon but also one for the region for the direction the region would take: whether it would turn into a US made regional order or would it go the other way. And similarly where would Lebanon stand in this. Would Lebanon be in the US axis or in the Iran-Syria axis? Therefore Lebanon may be considered as laboratory of the region. Domestic issues may be easier to settle but unless the regional issues remain unsettled we will not have peace in Lebanon. In other words if you cannot break the alliance between Syria and Iran there will not no peace in Lebanon unless Arab-Israeli conflict especially between Syria and Israel are settled there will be no peace in Lebanon. This is why question of peace in Lebanon is quite complex and hard to achieve.

Visits: 191

TURKEY’S RELATIONS WITH EU (INTERVIEW WITH ALI TEKIN,ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR),(MAY, 2007)

Turkey’s Relations with EU

Interview with Ali Tekin, Associate Professor
Department of International Relations, Bilkent University

Introduction and Question: I will ask questions on this subject to Asso. Professor Ali Tekin of Bilkent University International Relations: There are a number of negative signals from the European Union: First is the suspension of eight chapters in the negotiation process; then, speeches by the President of France Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy during the election campaign; although Mrs. Merkel, the German Chancellor has softened its rhetoric about offering a special relationship status to Turkey, her assistants and other CD and CSU leaders continue harping on the same theme and finally the negotiation process is an open ended one and this year only one chapter has been opened for negotiations. Under these conditions how do you assess the future of Turkish EU relations?

Ali Tekin: One should look into possible scenarios for the future of Turkish-EU relations. I think there are four possibilities two of which are more realistic than the others in the next decade. As you look to the future of the conditions of today two are more possible. In the first of all four scenarios, an easy ride to Turkey ’s full membership is not clear and not easy to be realized, at least for the next decade.  The other radical alternative is that Turkey totally departs from the EU process; but that will not happen either, because Turkey and EU are closely linked in many ways, and it is extremely difficult to isolate the two from each other. Both sides have deeply rooted common interests at least in maintaining the level of relations they have currently. Of the other more realistic alternatives, one is the special relationship status- an alternative favoured by Merkel and Sarkozy. The other realistic alternative is the adoption of a “wait and see” attitude on both sides. What this means is that both sides put on hold the membership process for another decade or so.  At least for the time being the last scenario, the “wait and see” attitude, is prevailing. Currently in the EU there are problems at least the problem of situating the EU in the global politics and the global economy. And there are a number of other issues that are not decided upon internally. For example there are important transformations to be made in Europe to adapt to the conditions of global economy. This transformation has not yet been made although big countries like Germany and France are trying to carry out this transformation. Therefore, economically and politically things are not very clear in Europe today. In these conditions of turmoil in Europe, EU does not have a concrete policy towards Turkey. If they have any policy, that is negative rather than positive. But in the long run this negative policy could become counter-productive for the EU countries. Therefore, there want to keep Turkey on hold for full membership; but they cannot at the same time tolerate the cost of totally excluding Turkey. Therefore, of the four scenarios, the most realistic one is the continuation of this wait and see attitude for another decade or so.

On the Turkish side also there are growing doubts about EU attitude towards Turkey.  I think the initial optimism is gone and there is a sense of pessimism towards the EU but that too can change; yet, it may go on for a while because for the most part it depends on the attitude of EU.

Q- You are absolutely right on this point. What I would like to recall that way back in 1970s we were even then talking about European policies towards Turkey. This attitude was then summarized as “keep Turkey on top of the garden wall- not inside not outside”.  This policy was possible and feasible during the cold war, as Turkey relied on the West for its security strategies. At the end of the cold war there was a new situation and economic growth and political reforms of Turkey led EU to accept Turkey as a candidate in 1999 and begin membership negotiation in 2005 but now there seems be reversion to the policies of the cold war as you very well explained by the policy of “keep them in the waiting room”. That was viable policy during the cold war but that may be so now. As all of us have witnessed recently there is a growing pressure in Turkey to opt a more individualistic foreign policy in the region. Is this a viable alternative policy for Turkey?

Ali Tekin: I think you are right that the attitude in Turkey towards the European Union is becoming more negative; but I think this is more of a result of the gap between expectation of the membership in the European Union and the realization of the current difficulties and the downturn in the process. This time, the backlash and negative attitude towards EU in Turkey is more solid. Therefore it should be taken very seriously compared with the anti-European sentiments, if there was any, in the past.  In the past anti-Europeanism did not dominate the minds of the public at large, perhaps it had more to do with elites, but today the situation is quite the opposite. I think the people have developed expectations from the EU but as the expectations are not realized the attitudes have turned highly negative. So this should be taken very seriously. As you pointed out after the Cold War people are more aware of the fact there are other possibilities for Turkey as there are more centres of gravity and power around the globe. During the Cold War there were only the West and the East and one had to look one way or the other. But today economically speaking there are China and India rising; militarily speaking Russia is gaining strength, in terms of ideology political Islam has become a very solid one in the Middle East and beyond. So I think Turkish public and any average Turk expectedly  develop interest in these different currents and ideologies developing in the region and around the globe. Therefore I think the governments in Turkey have to be quite careful about catering to differing feelings of the people. In terms of foreign policy Turkey has become a more difficult country to run especially in a democratic environment where they have to take into account of the feelings and policy preferences of their electorate. As a result, one would expect a more positive attitude towards the Islamic world and that could become an important sentiment among the people in Turkey. Another one may be having better relations with Russia. During the Cold War this was a scary thought but it is no longer. There are also people who are interested in what the others are doing. For example, how China, India and other fast developing countries are doing things. So, in that sense the Turkish public opinion is becoming more pluralistic.

At a macro level what is most interesting is that in the past Turkey’s policy was in harmony with that of the West.  Now there is a sense of “pick and choose” from a menu of options. Similarly, the West does not seem to have a comprehensible policy towards Turkey. The outcome is that the American leverage on Turkey is getting weaker and weaker, leading to more individualistic policies on the part of Turkey . The European “anchor” also is weakening. I believe that the weakening of the Turkish anchor with the West will ultimately work against Western interests. Therefore, it is quite necessary for the West to pay attention to what the Turkish state and Turkish people at large feel about the Western attitude towards Turkey ranging from the issues of terrorism, Iraq to the mode of the EU negotiations. And they should not take Turkish foreign policy for granted as they did in the past. If Turkey and the West grow apart, it will cost both sides.

Subject: “ Turkey’s Relations with the European Union: The outlook for the Future

Visits: 195

EMERGENCE OF TWO POLITICO-JUDICIAL SYSTEMS IN WORLD AFFAIRS IS POSSIBLE, BELIEVES A YALE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR (KAYHAN KARACA, 28 MAY 2003)

Emergence of two politico-judicial systems in world affairs is possible, believes a Yale University Professor

Interview by Kayhan KARACA

In an interview to the Council of Europe on the occasion of a conference on European and American constitutionalism, organised in Göttingen, Yale University Professor Jed Rubenfeld stresses that “the European states are more committed to an international system of enforcement and interpretation and implementation than the US is”. He adds, however, that the two systems remain committed to the same fundamental values and ultimately, there is no reason why there must be complete uniformity in the constitutional law of every democratic nation.

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Question : There is historic relationship between the European and American constitutional systems but it seems that this relationship has changed since the end of the communist systems in Eastern Europe. What could be the reason for this evolution?

J. Rubenfeld : There have always been differences. Perhaps they are just becoming more visible after 1989. There are two kinds of differences that we could talk about. There are differences on matters of doctrine such as the difference between the American law of free speech and European free speech law. As is well known, the US constitutional system is more protective of speech than are many European states. Similarly with respect to religion the American constitution protects against the establishment of religion in a way that a number of European states constitutional systems do not. The major change that happens after 1989 is not however a matter of doctrine. It is a matter of the developing internationalisation of constitutional protections, especially human rights protections, in Europe, for which there is no parallel in the US.

To understand this development you have to go back before 1989. You have to go back to the Second World War. What develops in Europe after the war is a kind of international constitutionalism, in which constitutional rights and other important principles are shifted to international institutions, which come to play a higher law role – a constitutional role – in Europe. International law systems come to function as a kind of constitutionalism in Europe. This is what did not happen in the United States. The US does not share the same commitment, from 1945 to 1989, to the international system as a system for restraining national self determination. These differences were suppressed during the cold war. But since 1989 this is the difference which has emerged. The European states are more committed to internationalisation as a constitutional matter. They are more committed to an international system as a form of constitutional law with the authority to restrain national power and national self-determination. This is the difference we have begun to see in the last several years. It is perceived as American unilateralism or American defiance of international law. At bottom it is reflective of two different forms of constitutionalism.

Question: So according to you, the interpretation of the death penalty, freedom of speech or human dignity are not the only examples of the difference between the two systems?

J. Rubenfeld : There are of course differences with respect to speech, religion and the death penalty. You can name a couple of more. They are important but not fundamental. They are not what is creating the anxiety that people feel today. What is creating the anxiety is the fact that the American constitutional system is showing some tendency not to be bound by the international law system.

Question : Do you think the war in Iraq has changed something more, especially when we think of the disagreements between the US and some European countries over the role of international law?

J. Rubenfeld : I think there is cause for concern. The question is whether the existing framework for international governance of the use of force is sufficient. I think this question has been on the table since Kosovo when NATO’s intervention was not authorised by the Security Council. I do not believe that Iraq is the first example of this. Iraq is not a sudden departure. We saw a similar state of affairs in Kosovo.

Question : The US is accused of unilateralism by Europe in the field of the application of the international law. Do you believe this accusation is justified?

J. Rubenfeld : The US is in fact less committed to the international form of constitutionalism that the European states have committed themselves to. This will be seen from a European point of view as unilateralism. Unquestionably, the US has shown some unilateralist tendencies on human rights and certain other matters. For instance we have not joined international human rights conventions that virtually every other country in the world has joined. We have refused to subscribe to the Kyoto protocol. We have walked away from the antiballistic missile treaty with Russia. There are several actions the US has taken last several years which demonstrate uncertainty and anxiety about the reliability of the international law system. But the US and Europe are both committed to the same ultimate legal values of rule of law, fundamental protections for individuals, equal protection under law and individual autonomy. So at a fundamental level there is much more congruence than conflict between the deepest principles that the two systems are committed to. But the European states are more committed to an international system of enforcement and interpretation and implementation than the US is. This is what the European states see as unilateralism on the US part.

Question : Is it possible to predict a bicephalous or two different politico-judicial systems in world affairs in a foreseeable future?

J. Rubenfeld : It is a possibility. Indeed with the EU, this two-headed system already exists to some extent. If the European Union succeeds in the way that it seems to be succeeding then you will have a full-blown European system of human rights and economic regulation. This would be a distinct system from the American human rights and economic regulation.

Question : Can those two systems live together without conflict?

J. Rubenfeld : The confrontation risks are very much exaggerated. Fundamentally the two systems are committed to the same values. There may be moments of anxiety and concern, when one system does not follow exactly the rules that the other system would like it to, but this is natural and viable. There may be differences between US and European constitutionalism but there is no reason ultimately why there must be complete uniformity in the constitutional law of every democratic nation.

Visits: 182

MEDIA, TERRORISM AND ANTI-TERRORIST ACTIVITIES: “ARE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND SECURITY CONTRADICTORY?” (KAYHAN KARACA, 28 NOVEMBER 2002)

Media, Terrorism and Anti-terrorist Activities: “Are freedom of information and security contradictory?”

Interview with Alessandro Silj, Secretary General of the Social Sciences Council (Italy) By Kayhan Karaca, 28 November 2002

Question : Since 11 September there has been a lot of talk about the fight against terrorism. In your opinion, what role should the media be playing in this debate?

Alessandro Silj : I don’t think “fight” is the right word. The task of the media is to inform the public. Since the events of 11 September this has not been an easy task. The public reaction the events triggered and the difficulties the media have had obtaining information other than from government sources have not made journalists’ work any easier. It is very risky for a reporter to go to Pakistan in search of sources close to Ben Laden. An American journalist lost his life trying to do just that. The media must also avoid adopting extreme positions because of the climate of fear the terrorist attacks have created. They must provide the public with information about Islam, for example – help people understand that Islam and fundamentalism are different things. The media can also contribute to dialogue between cultures and religions.

Question : On the one hand there is this notion of fighting terrorism and on the other you have freedom of expression and the duty to inform. Do you not have the impression that journalists are caught in a crossfire?

Alessandro Silj : Can you imagine a newspaper editor or a broadcaster voluntarily refraining from covering a terrorist attack? It is quite unthinkable. Our western approach to communication makes it impossible for the media not to cover such events. Governments can ask them, off the record, to be careful and refrain from broadcasting or publishing statements made by terrorist organisations in full, to avoid propaganda. A distinction clearly has to be made between propaganda and information. Information is reporting what happened. Propaganda is reporting events in a biased manner.

Question : Some people argue that new communication technologies, like the Internet, favour the spread of terrorist propaganda. What is your view on this?

Alessandro Silj: If that is the case it is not the fault of the new technologies. Technological progress is only natural. When there was only radio, we used the radio. Then television came along. Imagine a journalist resisting the temptation to interview the leader of a terrorist group if he had the chance. There is considerable competition between the media, remember.

Question : But does this competition, this quest for readership and ratings, not lure the media onto slippery ground where they can easily become instruments of propaganda?

Alessandro Silj: Obviously it is important to cover events with information, not propaganda. It is important for news organisations to be first on the scene. They all like to be able to say “we got there first” or “we aired the news first”. Being the first to print or broadcast news is not propaganda. If you do not break the news somebody else will. Showing the twin towers collapsing is not propaganda. Showing pictures like those on television makes people realise what terrorists are capable of. But even if they were not shown, people would find out anyway. News travels.

Question : The notion of terrorism is interpreted differently in different countries. What one country sees as a terrorist organisation another may consider as “freedom fighters”. What approach do you think the media should adopt in this respect?

Alessandro Silj: It depends on the groups. The media should learn to study their subject matter so that they know which groups are fighting for freedom and which are pursuing other goals. You have to be familiar with the issues at stake. Only then can you distinguish between a separatist group and a terrorist organisation bent solely on violence.

Question : Is it for the media to decide who is a terrorist and who is not?

Alessandro Silj : It is unlikely that people will ever agree on the definition of terrorism. So it is not surprising that the media cannot agree on a definition. It is a difficult and ambiguous question for everybody and the media merely reflect that ambiguity. A good journalist will report that certain groups, in the eyes of certain people, are fighting for a legitimate cause, such as the liberation of a territory, for example. But he or she must also report that the same groups are considered by others as terrorists. The media have a responsibility to present both points of view, so that the public have enough information to make up their own minds and form an opinion.

Visits: 179

Cyprus: Towards a Settlement?

M.Ergün Olgun

(Former Undersecretary of the Presidency of the TRNC

and Former Turkish Cypriot Negotiator)

Brief Background

The Republic of Cyprus was established as a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot bi-communal partnership republic in 1960. Unable to overcome the obsession to unite the island with Greece and to internalize partnership, the Greek Cypriot partner violently hijacked the Republic of Cyprus in December 1963, deprived the Turkish Cypriot community of its constitutional rights and forced them into surrounded enclaves. Another coup, this time by Greek Junta officers and Greek Cypriot extremists, was staged on 15 July 1974 to unite the island with Greece. This resulted in Guarantor Turkey’s intervention, by virtue of the Treaty of Guarantee, to prevent such union.

Negotiations between the leaders of the two politically equal constituent peoples of the Island aimed at finding a comprehensive settlement have a long history. Negotiations go as far back as 1968 in Beirut. Without going into a lot of detail I briefly want to point out to some of the developments at the negotiations since 1968.

In 1977 and 1979 the two sides succeeded to reach two crucial High Level Agreements which still form the basis of the ongoing negotiations. According to these agreements the objective of the negotiations is to form a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation that will be based on the political equality of its two constituting communities. The negotiations have since been conducted under the auspices of the UN Secretary General’s Good Offices mission.

Despite these agreements the Greek Cypriot side has rejected the 1985-86 Draft Framework Agreement, the UN sponsored Set of Ideas of 1992, the package of Confidence Building Measures of 1994 and lastly the UN Comprehensive Settlement Plan (the famous Annan Plan) of 2004, which were all based on the word and spirit of the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements.

The sustained efforts of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey following the failure of the intense 2004 settlement effort and the unilateral admission of the Greek Cypriot polity into the EU (despite the refusal by the Greek Cypriot side of the UN settlement plan) finally bore fruit against the background of a change of leadership in the Greek Cypriot community. A new process started following the meeting of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and the newly elected Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Hristofiyas in 2008. This new process yielded a set of convergences. In April 2010 Derviş Eroğlu was elected the new President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. He was committed to continuing the negotiations from where it had left off in a constructive manner, but little progress could be achieved during the remaining term of office of Mr. Dimitris Hristofias.

After the Greek Cypriot elections in 2013 it took almost a year for the new Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades to sit at the negotiation table. As a result of international pressure (particularly American) negotiations between President Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades yielded the 11 February 2014 Joint Declaration which injected new impetus to the process and added substance to the agreed settlement parameters.  Some key elements of this Joint Declaration are as follows:

  • The leaders expressed their determination to resume structured negotiations in a results-oriented manner. All unresolved core issues will be on the table and will be discussed interdependently. The leaders will aim to reach a settlement as soon as possible and hold separate simultaneous referenda thereafter.
  • The united Cyprus, as a member of the United Nations and of the European Union, shall have a single, international legal personality and a single sovereignty which is defined as the sovereignty which is enjoyed by all members States of the United Nations, under the UN Charter and which emanates equally from Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. There will be a single united Cyprus citizenship, regulated by federal law.
  • The powers of the federal government and like matters that are clearly incidental to its specified powers, will be assigned by the constitution. The Federal constitution will also provide for the residual powers to be exercised by the constituent states. The constituent states will exercise fully and irrevocably all their powers free from encroachment by the federal government. The federal laws will not encroach upon constituent state laws within the constituent states’ area of competences and the constituent states’ laws will not encroach upon the federal laws within the federal government’s competences.
  • Neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other.
  • The united Cyprus federation shall result from the settlement following the settlement’s approval by separate simultaneous referenda. The federal constitution shall prescribe that the united Cyprus federation shall be composed of two constituent states of equal status.
  • Union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession or any other unilateral change to the state of affairs will be prohibited.
  • The sides will seek to create a positive atmosphere to ensure the talks succeed. They commit to avoid blame games or other negative public comments on the negotiations.

On 24 July 2014, following intense meetings between the leaders and their negotiating teams, the two leaders agreed that both sides had completed the submission of proposals on all issues. When the leaders met again on September 17 following the summer break there was hope that basic agreement could be reached to move to the next phase of structured negotiations. The expectation was that the talks would proceed in a results-oriented manner and that following the referenda on both sides a lasting settlement would be achieved.

Despite the distance covered with the support of the Secretary General’s good offices mission and the push by the Turkish Cypriot side, Turkey and the Americans, the Greek Cypriot side again resorted to delaying tactics and attempted to frustrate the process by initiating a new round of unilateral off-shore drilling activity in jointly owned waters in the south east and south of the island. Pointing out that the two parties were in the midst of federal partnership talks, the Turkish Cypriot side proposed joint exploration and exploitation, both in the Northern Turkish Cypriot controlled and south Greek Cypriot controlled parts of the Island. As an alternative, the Turkish Cypriot side proposed that both sides put exploration activity on hold and, as a priority, focus on a comprehensive settlement, since it was already agreed that the exploration and exploitation of natural resources would be a federal competence.

When the Greek Cypriot side rejected both of these proposals and continued with its unilateral exploration the Turkish Cypriot side was forced to take counter measures to protect its equal and inherent rights over offshore natural resources. Unfortunately, the Greek Cypriot side used the Turkish Cypriot’s counter measures as a pretext to step away from negotiations in October 2014. This created an atmosphere of “insecurity” which made companies and countries involved and interested in hydrocarbons exploitation uneasy. This in turn resulted in intense pressure on both parties to resume the talks by finding a face saving formula that will apply to both. This was discretely achieved with the simultaneous suspension of activities by both sides in March 2015.

This suspension coincided with the Presidential elections in North Cyprus. Elections in April 2015 resulted in a change of Turkish Cypriot leadership and Mustafa Akıncı was elected President. Meanwhile, through the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus (former Foreign Minister of Norway) Espen Barth Eide’s efforts, a new round of comprehensive settlement negotiations resumed on 15 May 2015 with the expectation and hope that a successful conclusion would be reached before the Greek Cypriot parliamentary elections in May 2016.

Most recently, after the EU-Turkey summit held in Brussels on November 29th, both the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker expressed their hope that a successful end is near.

Given this background, as someone who has been directly involved with the negotiating process between 1993-2005 and also between 2010-May2015, I now want to express my views on the opportunities/expectations that lay ahead and the potential obstacles and threats that face us.

Possible Opportunities and Expectations

Though the Cyprus problem is described by many as a “Cypriot” issue there are other interested parties/stake holders in the Cyprus dispute. Among these are  the Guarantor Powers of the 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance (Turkey, Greece and the UK) and of course the EU.  Each of these has different expectations from a Cyprus settlement and sees different opportunities.

The opportunities and expectations I will be sharing here are those expressed by the TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı and his negotiating team, which I also mostly share.

  1. The 52 year old conflict is incurring a heavy cost on the two communities, as well as their mother countries Turkey and Greece. Settlement and the building up of a cooperative relationship can bring positive energy and synergy to Turkish Cypriot-Greek Cypriot relations, to Turkish-Greek-EU relations and to the region in general.
  2. A bi-communal, bi-zonal federal settlement to be based on the political equality of the two constitutive communities and on the equal status of the two Constituent States will enable the elimination of political, economic and social restrictions imposed on the Turkish Cypriot people, will facilitate the integration of the Turkish Cypriot Constituent State into the global system and will provide it with international legality. For their part, an agreement will address Greek Cypriot security needs, will provide for enhanced security and stability in and around Cyprus, will open up the Turkish market for tourism, shipping and other Greek Cypriot services activities and will enable hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation for the benefit of both communities.
  3. There is enough conflict, instability and human drama around Cyprus. The region cannot carry further conflicts and instability. Unless managed well, newly discovered hydrocarbon reserves in the maritime region around Cyprus could be a source of competition between stake holders and may cause conflict. An agreement to be found to the Cyprus conflict, including the joint use and exploitation of the hydrocarbon sources, will turn a possible curse into an opportunity.
  4. Settlement and political stability in Cyprus will produce geopolitical and economic opportunities for both sides and the region.
  5. Among the conflicts in the region, Cyprus is at the closest point to resolution and can turn into a model of cooperation, tolerance and living together among different ethnic and religious communities.
  6. Cyprus can set a win-win example to the prevailing win-lose approaches in the region.
  7. With settlement in Cyprus an area of cooperation could evolve in the fields of energy, water and electricity. Eastern Mediterranean hydrocarbons from Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus can be carried to the EU through Turkey. This may reduce dependence on Russian gas. The interdependence in the fields of energy and water may create an atmosphere of regional stability and the resulting cooperation may enhance the ties between Turkey, Greece and the EU. Moreover, mutual interdependence may have a “gluing effect” on the region.
  8. Settlement in Cyprus could give a boost to Turkey’s accession process to the EU.

Possible Threats and Obstacles

General:

In this section I would like to point out to some of the general obstacles and threats that the bi-communal and bi-zonal federalism objective could face before moving on to some specific obstacles and threats.

  1. A clear majority of Greek Cypriots passionately consider Cyprus a Hellenic Island and consequently see themselves as its sole owners. This hegemonic frame of mind is the major obstacle in the power sharing negotiations and finds reflection in Greek Cypriot solution proposals and the discussion of all chapters.
  2. The favourable atmosphere and window of opportunity that emerged following the simultaneous suspension of unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activity may close with the forthcoming Greek Cypriot parliamentary elections to be held in May 2016. Because the Greek Cypriot side is benefiting from the existing unacceptable status quo it refuses to conduct the process on the basis of a timetable despite pressure from the Turkish Cypriot side.
  3. Population and economic power asymmetries constitute key sources of political and economic problems, which particularly become serious in dyadic (two partner) federations. Such asymmetries exist in Cyprus and attempts by Turkish Cypriot negotiators to proactively introduce constitutional safeguards and/or checks and balances to contain future problems are strongly opposed by Greek Cypriot negotiators. Greek Cypriot negotiators have in fact consistently pursued policies that aim at perpetuating such asymmetries. Since usurping power in 1963 Greek Cypriot authorities have been imposing inhuman economic and social restrictions on the Turkish Cypriot community. At the recent talks, Greek Cypriot negotiators have been trying to permanently fix a 4 to 1 population ratio, an indication that Greek Cypriots want to keep Turkish Cypriots a permanent numerical minority. The continuation of the existing gap between the two politically equal peoples in the fields of political and economic power will leave the Turkish Cypriot side at a very disadvantageous position in a federal partnership which, eventually, could turn into a source of conflict.
  4. Alongside constitutional safeguards, the 1960 agreements foresaw effective external guarantees under the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance. These aimed at deterring the violation of the state of affairs created by the agreements. The Greek Cypriot side and Greece violated their pledge in both December 1963 and again on 15th July 1974 and it was thanks to the external guarantees that Turkish Cypriots, with Guarantor Turkey’s intervention, managed to obstruct the union of Cyprus with Greece. Now, the Greek Cypriot side and Greece are jointly trying to eliminate these external guarantees as well.
  5. Greek Cypriot negotiators are also refusing to give legal certainty to the arrangements that will be negotiated in Cyprus and that will go through separate simultaneous referenda, thus making such arrangements liable to legal challenges at EU courts.
  6. Both administrations suffer from high levels of public debt. Unless serious sustainable remedies are found and public governance and financial management improved on both sides, with the deep crises of confidence and the absence of a culture of cooperation, the federal partnership runs the serious risk of facing problems with financial and economic sustainability.
  7. Very few in each of the two communities speak the language of the other. This is bound to create communication problems, particularly in the initial years of a possible federation. The English language could be a medium of communication but not everybody speaks English. Furthermore, the absence of experience in power sharing/joint decision making processes could pose problems.
  8. Despite its refusal of the 2004 UN Comprehensive Settlement Plan the Greek Cypriot side was awarded with membership in the EU on 1st May 2004. Since then they have been trying to undermine some of the long established and UN endorsed key parameters for settlement by exploiting their membership of the EU. One crucial parameter the Greek Cypriot side is trying to undermine is the principle of bi-zonality. In his Opening Statement of 26 February 1990 the UN Secretary General had stated in clear terms that “The bi-zonality of the federation should be clearly brought out by the fact that each federated state will be administered by one community which will be firmly guaranteed a clear majority of the population and of the land ownership in its area.”  It is the practical requirements regarding population and property that Greek Cypriot negotiators are now trying to undermine. This shift poses a serious threat to the bi-communal and bi-zonal federation objective that is currently on the negotiating table.
  9. Despite the fact that the two sides say they are talking bi-communal and bi-zonal power sharing and despite the strong push of the Turkish Cypriot side since May 2015, all attempts have failed to implement a modest package of CBMs, particularly regarding arrangements to interconnect the mobile phone systems on the two sides and regarding the PDO registration and auditing of the Cyprus cheese  Hellim/Halloumi, because the Greek Cypriot side insists that their authorities should remain the sole competent authority.

Property

The centre point in the negotiations of the Property Chapter is the establishment of criteria that will enable the settlement of the property issue in view of the bi-zonality principle and the fact that 40 years have passed since the Voluntary Population Exchange Agreement of 1975 which ensued the 15th July 1974 Greek-Greek Cypriot coup d’état. The mass movement of people to safer areas (both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot) has, out of necessity, led to the emergence of a new socio economic fabric, both in North and South Cyprus. After 40 years very few in North Cyprus today want to become refugees again and give up the safe and secure living they have long established.

It is with this background and on the basis of the criteria to be agreed that the Joint Property Commission will be mandated to settle relevant property issues through three agreed remedies: compensation, exchange of relevant properties or restitution. In doing this the  Commission will take into account the rights of current users of properties, based on the right to use or occupy such property by an authority, as well as the rights of the previous property owner.

Without any doubt, if arrangements were to be adopted in a manner that would significantly disrupt the socio-economic fabric/structure that has evolved over the past 41 years, this would lead to a human rights tragedy and paralyze the economy and social structure of the Turkish Cypriot Constituent State. TRNC President Akıncı is well aware of the fact that Turkish Cypriots will not say “yes” in the referendum for a settlement unless the large scale continuation of the socio-economic fabric that came about in the course of 41 years in Northern Cyprus is ensured.

Contrary to the needs of translating the principle of bi-zonality into practical terms, the Greek Cypriot side continues to insist that the first right of say regarding the choice of remedies in the settlement of property issues should be with the original owner.  Such a criterion would in no way facilitate the realization of bi-zonality and could result in the return to pre 1974 conditions, which is exactly what the Greek Cypriots want and which is anathema to Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots also reject giving legal certainty to arrangements that would be agreed (by making such arrangements part of primary EU law) thus making the terms of a possible political settlement liable to challenge at courts.

With the erosion and destruction of bi-zonality the Turkish Cypriot community would lose its territorial basis and with it risk becoming a subject community in a Greek Cypriot dominated state, unable to maintain its identity, political equality and security.

Security and Guarantees

The fact that the numerically strong Greek Cypriot community sees Cyprus as a Hellenic island and have resorted to every means to unite it with Greece (Enosis) for more than a century (most recently in 1963 and 1974) necessitates the presence of a strong and effective deterrence to prevent the repetition of such attempts in the future.  The 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance provide the only legal and effective instrument through which such deterrence is provided and the Turkey – Greece balance that was established with the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 maintained.

The purpose of the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance was to prevent the violation of the state of affairs that was created in 1960. That state of affairs was violated by the Greek Cypriots in 1963 and again in 1974, this time by Greece and Greek Cypriot extremists together. It has not been possible to agree on a new state of affairs since. The last attempt to secure a comprehensive settlement by the UN was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in 2004.

The union of the island with Greece, something prohibited by international agreements, was narrowly avoided thanks to the 1960 guarantee system. Turkish Cypriots do not want to risk another onslaught by Greek Cypriot/Greek fanatics. The elimination or enfeeblement of the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance (which complement each other) and/or the full withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus will create a vacuum of authority and eliminate a factor of deterrence against conflict in the Island. Such a development could lead to the recurrence of violence. There has not been violence on the island since the 1974 intervention of Turkey.

The undermining of the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance is also likely to put the Sovereign British Bases under the spotlight. This could lead to the undercutting of Western security and strategic footing in the region at a time when Russia (having lost its grip in Syria) is likely to bribe its way into Cyprus benefiting from Orthodox solidarity and the influence of the strong Communist AKEL party.

Population

It is claimed that in the course of negotiations, at the insistence of the Greek Cypriot side, both parties have officially declared their population numbers.  The claim is that the Greek Cypriot side declared its citizens as 802 thousand (including citizenships granted to foreigners), and the Turkish Cypriot side as 220 thousand. It is further claimed that Greek Cypriots expected a larger number of TRNC citizens and were relieved with the declared number, this time demanding that the 4 to 1 population ratio be maintained between the two communities and also applied to Greek – Turkish nationals who would choose to live in Cyprus, even when Turkey becomes a member of the EU.

No doubt this is a racist, discriminatory and irrational stand which aims at permanently keeping the Turkish Cypriots trapped in the 4 to 1 minority ratio.  Surely Turkey will also reject such discrimination and irrationality as regards its own citizens.

There are a good number of “non-citizen” people in North Cyprus who have fully integrated into the Turkish Cypriot community and economy for more than 10 years, many with their spouses and children. Having fulfilled the necessary requirements, many of these have applied for and are awaiting TRNC citizens. The TRNC has an economy which functions with approximately 300 thousand people and caters for even more, bearing in mind the nearly 60 thousand foreign student population.  Some among those in the TRNC are temporary/occasional or seasonal workers who have come for temporary work. But there are some who now see the TRNC as their home and who have become inseparable parts of the TRNC economy and society. The TRNC economy and society cannot now afford to lose these skilled people because the Greek Cypriots want to maintain the 4 to 1 ratio. To treat them as second class is not compatible with human rights and contradicts economic logic.

 

A study conducted on behalf of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, and published in the Journal of Peace Research (11 April 2012) emphasizes that “in highly unequal federations, both relatively developed and underdeveloped regions are indeed more likely to be involved in secessionist conflict than regions close to the country average.” (Inequality and conflict in federations, Christa Deiwiks, Lars-Erik Cederman and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch).

 

Research also indicates that large inequalities in population numbers in dyadic (two partner) federations is equally likely to lead to secessionist conflict.

 

Given the above findings increased parity between the political/economic power of the partners and their populations could contribute to the sustainability of a Cyprus federation.

 

Territorial Adjustment

The Turkish Cypriot position on territorial adjustments is that it will not be possible to secure a “yes” vote from North Cyprus if the arrangements presented to referenda on the territorial arrangement and the property issue seriously hamper the established socio-economic fabric and structure that has come into being out of necessity as a result of the 15th July 1974 Greek-Greek Cypriot coup d’état. Many Turkish Cypriots have been forced to abandon their homes, villages and towns for three times since the beginning of the Greek Cypriot EOKA/Enosis campaign in 1955. Turkish Cypriots do not want to be forced into rehabilitation by abandoning their homes and villages again.

The European Court of Human Rights in its “Demopoulos versus Turkey” ruling has underlined that  arrangements that will affect the lives of current users of properties in Cyprus (be it territorial adjustments or arrangements on the property issue) will have humanitarian and human rights implications.

There will need to be “give and take” to reach a political solution in Cyprus, but to get popular support behind such political solution the arrangements that will be offered cannot significantly jeopardise what people are currently enjoying out of necessity and due to no fault of their own. Furthermore, even limited rehabilitation will involve housing, arrangements for employment opportunities, education, health and similar infrastructure arrangements/projects which will all need significant contributions from the international community since such funds are not available locally.

Harmonization with the EU

As a member of the EU the Greek Cypriot side has already achieved harmonization with the EU. Turkish Cypriot businesses and producers, for their part, have little competition capacity vis a vis the EU market since Turkish North Cyprus has not been able to go through any EU harmonization process. This disadvantage may be overcome after the implementation of a reasonable transition period, but it will be difficult to overcome the “size” advantage of the Greek Cypriot economy and businesses.

Another problem is that both Greek and Turkish Cypriot public finances and economies are in serious trouble. Greek Cypriot public finance relies on a rescue package from the EU while Turkish Cypriot public finance relies on credit and aid from Turkey. Both have failed to improve the productivity and effectiveness of their public sectors and to restructure their public finances. A serious concern is that, in the absence of a culture of partnership and of working together, this failure could reflect itself in the functioning of the federal government and federal finances, particularly in the initial transition period when the federation will face a multitude of costly problems like the linking of  infrastructure networks, rehabilitation, harmonization and compensation needs.

It is worth remembering that Germany faced serious financial and economic problems in the unification process of West and East Germany. Uncertainties (particularly regarding property ownership), time needed for EU harmonization, limited experience with foreign markets and  limitations in  relevant entrepreneurial skills and capital may all have a stronger bearing on the Turkish Cypriot economy as compared to the Greek Cypriot economy. Furthermore, the transition from the Turkish Lira to Euro and new federal formalities/difficulties that may be faced in benefiting from the cheaper Turkish labour market may lead to production cost increases and further undermine the current competitiveness of the Turkish Cypriot economy.

Conclusion

The pressing need for settlement, together with the opportunities that lay ahead for Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and the region, are glaringly obvious. If rationalism had prevailed the Cyprus issue would have been solved a long time ago.

It is the hold of history and out dated visions and obsessions that are obstructing settlement in Cyprus.

The stability/security needs of our turbulent region and hydrocarbons discovery could together act as catalysts for change and resolution.  Political leaders need to look ahead and vision in the broader context. The coordinated exploitation of the hydrocarbon resources of the region could bolster cooperation between Eastern Mediterranean countries and contribute to  security and stability.

The critical arrangements of the comprehensive settlement agreement that will be approved by the two communities in the simultaneous referenda will need to have legal certainty, particularly regarding EU and international courts. The Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance, which have proven their effectiveness by preventing union with Greece in 1974,  will need to remain in force to deter any violation of the terms of the new settlement agreement .

International involvement in the Cyprus dispute is on the rise. Over the last month or so the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Greece, UK, Germany, Russia and the USA have all visited Cyprus. The Chinese Foreign Minister is due to visit the island shortly. Foreign Ministers are the Marketing Directors of the countries they represent. Their task is to promote the interests of their respective countries. While international support is essential and can help move the process forward (if handled/managed properly and in a balanced manner), resolution in Cyprus needs to be geared to the realities on the ground and the needs/merits of the bi-communal, bi-zonal federal partnership that will be based on the political equality of its two constituting communities and the equal status of its two Constituent States. Lessons need to be taken from both failed and successful federations (particularly dyadic federations) in designing the terms and arrangements of the settlement. If not properly addressed and remedied, the existing asymmetry of political and economic power could undermine the sustainability of a future federation. Such asymmetries should have been addressed yesterday and it is their continuation that is feeding non settlement in Cyprus.

It will not be easy to change the hegemonic frames of mind of the past into inclusive and consensus building frames of mind that are essential for power sharing today. Respect of the principles of political equality and of bi-zonality and the translation and application of these principles into practical terms will be crucial for the survival and sustainability of a possible federal partnership.

The Greek Cypriot side is entering an election atmosphere for parliamentary elections in May 2016. If an agreement is not reached by then the parliamentary elections will overshadow the negotiation process.

Failure to achieve a bi-communal and bi-zonal federal settlement yet again will fatally undermine the credibility and feasibility of the federal settlement model and will inevitably demand the discussion of alternative solution models.

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