Tag Archives: migrant crisis

EU Migrant Agreement with Turkey

On 18 March,  European Union and Turkey decided to agree to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU.

I personally believe this agreement is a hall of shame statement for not only for European Union, but also for Turkey.

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If  you are a regular reader of my blog, you would remember that I have written a short piece on insincere EU attitude towards Turkey for many years and this is now another seal on the subject.

The EU and Turkey agreed that:

1) All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey;

2) For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU;

3) Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for irregular migration opening from Turkey to the EU;
4) Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or have been substantially reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated;

5) The fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016. Turkey will take all the necessary steps to fulfil the remaining requirements;

6) The EU will, in close cooperation with Turkey, further speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated €3 billion under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Once these resources are about to be used in full, the EU will mobilise additional funding for the Facility up to an additional €3 billion to the end of 2018;

7) The EU and Turkey welcomed the ongoing work on the upgrading of the Customs Union.
8) The accession process will be re-energised, with Chapter 33 to be opened during the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union and preparatory work on the opening of other chapters to continue at an accelerated pace;
9) The EU and Turkey will work to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria.

We are facing the largest involutarily human movement since the World War II and the “civilised countries” are failing to do whatever they need to.

Instead they are very busy with pushing the dirt under the rug.

EU should adopt a more viable and smarter approach towards Turkey rather than simply dangling carrots.

I am wondering what would be the Turkish stance when the visa liberalisation for Turks will be delayed for whatever reasons in the coming months.

I want to finish my article by a great quote by Larry Brilliant.

“Civilizations should be judged not by how they treat people closest to power, but rather how they treat those furthest from power – whether in race, religion, gender, wealth or class – as well as in time”

All the best.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Education, Social Entrepreneurs and Condolences

When I woke up on Saturday morning (November 14th) in Singapore, I had so many notifications on my phone from BBC, CNN, Le Point, France 24, Strait Times, etc.

While I was trying to open up my eyes, I managed to read one of these notifications and I was shocked.

Unfortunately, all the notifications that morning were related to the attacks in Paris on Friday night.

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First I tried to think which of my friends were in Paris and then, thanks to the Facebook safety check-in option, I figured out who was in Paris and luckily they were all safe—but not the poor 129 people who were killed so cowardly that night.

After absorbing the initial shock, I, like many of you, I am sure, started thinking of what could lead these people to act like this.

Most people came up with the answer of radical beliefs, but the answer is much deeper than that.

From my experience, when people genuinely get richer, that does not turn them into intellectual human beings, but they have an option to buy some level of comfort. Over time, the ability to buy comfort gradually makes them open to further adaptation and modernization, if they are not already.

With the right education in place, they can even be leading intellectuals in their community, too.

So I think the key here is how we can get these people in the very low pillars of society to higher pillars.

Education is key here; but education costs a lot—and for people who cannot meet their basic needs such as security and food especially, education is something of a luxury.

The government may provide education services up to a certain level, but this will always be limited and the kid from the poor family will still lack if he is not supported.

Social philanthropists can play a crucial role here.

For instance, I had a chance this week to meet a social entrepreneur, Alexandre Mars, in Singapore. People like him are quite important, because it is impossible and naive to believe that the state will reach every corner of the world to find disadvantaged people. On top of that, ageing and a broken insurance system in the developed world makes it even harder for governments to bring about solutions.

Alexandre Mars is one of the top twenty philanthropists under 40 in New York. His foundation is called the Epic Foundation and it was initially funded by his personal funds. His foundation currently funds 20 new NGOs every single year to help youths in five different continents. You can find more information on Epic Foundation here.

But of course, we need more Alexandre Mars, and it is easier said than done.

Alexandre mentioned that it was his dream to help the youth and it took 15 years to create enough wealth to pursue his real dream.

Thomas Piketty, a reputable French economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that the income inequality will continue to rise in the future as the return rate of capital is higher than the rate of economic growth. More importantly, he believes that the inequality level is now around the pre-war era.

I do not believe the utopic idea that everyone should be equal—on the contrary, I believe it is important that people are recognized for their achievement; but the redistribution of wealth is key to funding necessary education for the masses.

G20 in Antalya, Turkey, had been a good chance for leaders to discuss these issues. Since politicians are not entrepreneurs and they move much more slowly than entrepreneurs, I still believe entrepreneurs are the key to the solution.

The world is becoming a very polarized place to live and this is contrary to globalization and trade. We must eliminate illiteracy and poverty to secure a liveable world for ourselves and for our kids.

Expecting my first child next month, these events are very discouraging and lead me to wonder what kind of world we are really leaving for them. I sincerely worry about a world war within my life span.

By taking this opportunity, I would to like to offer my most sincere condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the Paris, Beirut and Ankara attacks.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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EU and Turkey: A Sour Love Story

The migrant crisis has been ongoing without a proper solution for some time now, and this week Chancellor Merkel visited Istanbul to cooperate with Turkey to address the issue.

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One may ask: “How come Turkey became an important source for a solution?”

I am trying to find these answers in my article this week. Or simply: “Is Turkey really an important variable in the solution equation?”

I personally respect Chancellor Merkel, as every single leader in the biggest EU economies has changed since the global financial crisis, except Angela Merkel.

For instance, Gordon Brown was replaced by David Cameron in the UK, Nicolas Sarkozy by Francois Hollande in France, Jose Zapatero by Mariano Rajoy in Spain, Silvio Berlusconi by Mario Monti and then Enrico Letta and Matteo Renzi in Italy.

There is no doubt that Chancellor Merkel is a strong leader. Even though I do not like her treatment of and attitude towards Greece in the last couple of years, I do believe that she has done a magnificent job in keeping Germany growing and increasing German influence in these very difficult times.

My French readers and friends may dislike this statement, but she is the sole de facto EU president today.

Unfortunately, relations between the EU and Turkey have been sour from the beginning.

Turkey’s application for EU membership dates back to 1987 and accession talks began only in 2005. Only one chapter out of 35 is currently closed, and many member states are opposed to opening new chapters. In other words, there is no accession progression at all right now.

Chancellor Merkel came up with ‘great’ incentives for Turkey to help the EU with the migrant crisis in her visit to Turkey. I will term these incentives something like “bribes” for Turkey:

  • Visa liberalisations for Turkish citizens
  • Revitalisation of talks between the EU and Turkey
  • Three billion euros in aid

In exchange, the EU demands that Turkey issues work permits for Syrian refugees so that they can be included in the Turkish work force and that it cooperates fully with Frontex to make sure the refugees are not trespassing to EU borders.

Turkish citizens have waited for a long time to be able to travel freely within the EU and Turkish citizens are not really interested any more in revitalising talks with the EU. The EU has lost its ground among the Turkish population with its insincere politics over decades. In addition, even its member states are questioning its survival probability over the next ten years, and, more importantly, its functionality.

Chancellor Merkel is taking a calculated risk by granting some minor concessions to Turkey and this approach proves that the EU is not after a long term solution.

The EU wants Turkey to create a permanent living space for most of the Syrian refugees in a single country rather than sharing this burden. In return, the EU grants Turkey small and possibly temporary concessions.

Is this just another insincere EU policy towards Turkey? Indeed, it is!

Has the EU analysed the probable consequences in terms of unemployability, further economic and political instability, crime rate, etc. on Turkey after accepting 2.5 million refugees? Would granting visa liberalisation, one-off aid of three billion euros and opening up some chapters justify any possible long term consequences on Turkish politics and economics?

That’s where the problem begins. I would like to share a paragraph from my article, “Would you like to be in the same boat?” published in August about how I would like to see Europe.

“Europe is the birthplace of the Renaissance: it brought humanism, art, development in science and policy, reform in education and self-awareness. I would expect the same Europe to bring intelligence, know-how, education, sanitation, water, healthcare and other basic human needs to these countries. Instead, politicians are proudly talking of extra fencing, dogs and police officers. Unfortunately, these measures were not really helpful and I’m afraid that they will not be helpful going forward either.”

Unfortunately Europe’s great ideology, its vision of the desired unity, has been non-existent for some years now. Of course, Turkey will grant some work permits and will help these migrants.

But it is not just the duty of Turkey. It is the duty of humanity.

Granting work permits to over 2.5 million people in a single country is not a solution. The EU wants to sweep the problem under the rug and very likely, as Turkey is a leading hand-made rug producer, Turkey has been chosen to replace the duty of the rug here!

Another insincerity from Europe has been the delay in the publication of a European Union report on Turkey until after the November election. This report is about Turkey’s human rights and free speech.

The European Union has been losing its influence for some time now and the UK is preparing for a referendum on whether or not to stay in the union.

I personally would like to see the EU stronger, more sincere and, more importantly, a true representative of its ancestors, where the Renaissance attributes of humanism, art, and development in science and policy are manifested.

I hope Turkey rejects these unnecessary and insincere proposals, not to secure a better deal, but to get some much wanted respect in the world arena, along with a fair solution to the whole Syrian migrant population.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter:@sukru_haskan

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Would you like to be in the same boat?

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According to an article by Patrick Kingsley in Guardian Newspaper, we are facing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the World War two.

224,000 migrants and refugees have come to Europe in 2015. For those of you who can’t visualize the number, it is equivalent of four Arsenal Emirates stadium in London.

What could be happening in your home country that you could potentially risk your life to go somewhere else?

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, could explain it quite clearly with his famous theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

If you don’t have your basic needs met such as physiological and safety, then you can risk anything. And it is very clear that very basic human needs of these people are not being met.

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These migrants are mainly coming from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Darfur, Nigeria and Mali and all these places are fighting with poverty, civil unrest or war.

What has Europe done for these people? Well – Current European leaders have failed in many ways in the recent years and migrant crisis is just another episode of their failure in the big European project.

To answer my own question; They haven’t really done much. Instead they avoided the problem and as the problem knocks their own doors now, they are murmuring…

When you crunch the numbers, Germany, Sweden and Italy have accepted highest numbers of migrants up until now.

….But I do not think that granting these people asylum, is the real problem solver.

Europe is the birthplace of renaissance and it brought humanism, art, development in science and policy, reform in education and self-awareness.

I would expect the same Europe to bring intelligence, know-how, education, sanitation, water, healthcare and other basic human needs to these countries.

Instead politicians are proudly talking of extra fencing, dogs and police officers. Unfortunately these measures were not really helpful and I’m afraid that they will not be helpful going forward as well.

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By the way, EU has just approved EUR 2.4 billion aid for the current migrant crisis this week. Another short term symptom solving approach rather than digging deep into the problem.

The message, these people are conveying to us, is crystal clear…

“Instead of living in my home country, I rather prefer to be dead or live somewhere else!”

To our beloved politicians: If you really want to keep these people away from your own countries, you shall bring basic human needs to them to get them developed!

You should channel the money to your own NGOs instead of pumping money to their corrupted government. Some European NGOs are already on the ground for some time and they know the countries and their specific problems much better than anyone else.

Charities such as Wateraid and Oxfam can play more significant role than the governments.

Although I focus on European migrant crisis in this post, the problem does not only exist in Europe.

Migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh are trying to reach to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia whilst migrants from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico are trying to reach USA.

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According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the following countries are hosting the most refugees from Syria.

Turkey     – 1,805,255
Lebanon – 1,172,753
Jordan     –    629,128

In other words; Turkey is hosting 30, Lebanon 20 and Jordan 10 Arsenal stadiums size of people in their own country. 

Imagine the congestion on the way to Finsbury Park station after an Arsenal game and multiply it by 30 to figure out the refugee population in Turkey.

Of course it is not easy when Europe is going through economically hard times but we still could help these people in a better way!

Empathy is a valuable virtue!

Our behaviours will set the scene for a future world war or sustainable peace just like it did in the beginning of 1900s.

Finally, I will encourage you to listen Gary Haugen’s TED talk to understand a bit more what could be the motivations behind migrants journey to Europe.

Next week, I will be focusing on China and its economic policies. Keep following and please register your email to my subscription list!

Best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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