Athens, March 21, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
As soon as the lights went out in the Rue de la Loi 175 in Brussels, shortly after 8 pm, the delegations took out paper and pencil to make the account of the Agreement that was reached between the EU and Turkey on the refugee crisis.
After many backroom consultations, meetings, discussions, offers and counter-offers, the EU Agreement with Turkey was finally signed, leaving a sweet taste to all involved.
Almost all the delegations came to the European Council with one aim. Not to end up being the losers. Donald Tusk had his hands full in trying coordinate and make everyone agree. According to information of IBNA, the President of the European Council had made it clear that no European leader would leave the Belgian capital, without having reached an Agreement.
As for the other member of the Summit, Turkey, after the surprise which had caused on March 7 at the same place, Ahmet Davutoglu seemed that he wanted to get three basic things.
First of all money. The cost of hosting almost 3 million refugees is unbearable for the Turkish government. The truth is, even though it not a well known fact, that the Turkish government has offered money, structures and working hours for the care and accommodation of refugees. As Ahmet Davutoglu said, over USD 10 bn have been spent on the refugee crisis. The EUR 3 + 3 bn of the EU assistance to Turkey goes a long way.
The second is visa liberalization for Turkish nationals. Standing demand of Turkey was to exempt Turkish nationals from visa requirements for travel to the EU. This effectively translates to Turkey’s approach not only to the free movement of citizens, but also the economic and freight traffic from Turkey to Europe. As we have written in IBNA, the change in the foreign policy and the shift towards Europe is now given. Since June of 2016 and if the rest of the 72 prerequisites Europe is demanding are met, Turkish citizens will no longer need visas for the EU.
The third point is the accession course to the EU. The uncertainty prevailing in the region and the pressure of the American factor, to create a zone of stability and security in the region, according to all indications, will result to the resolution of bilateral problems that concern Turkey (Cyprus issue, Aegean, Israel etc.). The opening of Chapter 33 and of the others that will follow, as A. Davutoglu revealed, is paving the way to the EU, bypassing any objections of member-states.
The EU Agreement, worked more at a communicative level and less substantially. Once again Europe managed to hide the problem under the carpet, shifting its responsibilities and obligations towards the refugee crisis. The text of the Agreement is not binding, but it is up to the good will of those involved, such as Turkey and the EU member-states.
The final version of the Agreement is another wish list, without actually ensuring the implementation of the Agreement. It leaves everyone satisfied. Cyprus, because the Chapters that had been frozen for the accession of Turkey remained closed, Greece because it leaves room to discharge the stay of refugees in its territory. The countries have closed their borders with their voluntary participation in hosting refugees. Bulgaria, which fears that it will be the next target for the entry of refugees in the EU. Finally, the Agreement also ensures, although not explicitly mentioned, the protection-help to non-EU countries (FYROM, Albania, Serbia).
The EU has shown once again that it can not manage crises knocking at its door. In time, according to all indications, they will be forced to come back to the negotiation table for the refugee problem, because other states will express demands towards the EU, such as Morocco towards Spain.