By Martin Berger
The migration crisis remains one of the most puzzling problems European politicians have faced so far. Despite a number of desperate steps taken by various EU structures, relations between European countries are worsening, notes the notorious newspaper Corriere della Sera. Most of them are struggling to handle waves of migrants coming from Greece, which migrants are reaching by sea via Turkey.
As it has been reported by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 131,700 have managed to reach Europe by the sea in the first two months of 2016, which exceeds the figures recorded in the first five months of 2015. The UNHCR announced that 122,600 people have landed in Greece and they are in dire need of shelter, clothing, and food. As it has been announced by a UNHCR representative: “Europe is at the peak of the humanitarian crisis, that is largely spontaneous.”
On the basis of data provided by the EU and the European Border Agency the spokesperson for the UNHCR Melissa Fleming announced that 2,000 refugees arrive in Europe each day. Unlike last year when the absolute majority of asylum seekers were young men, in January 2016, women and children constituted more than half of all refugees. According to Melissa Fleming, children make up one third of all the refugees arriving in Europe, while last September they represented one-tenth .
As it has been pointed out by The Financial Times, the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans is convinced that Turkey has failed to implement the EU plan that was designed to contain the flow of refugees. The number of illegal immigrants heading to the EU has not decreased, despite the fact that Brussels allocated 3 million euros to Ankara for it to construct new refugee camps. German politicians are not even trying to hide their frustration with Merkel who was carrying out talks with Erdogan. There is growing dissatisfaction in Europe caused by the fact that the EU must now provide shelter to hundreds of thousands of migrants.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has also noted that Turkey has failed the mission that it was entrusted with. Yet, paradoxically Turkey is being repeatedly called a principal ally in the fight against the immigration crisis. This rhetoric can be attributed to the fact the absolute majority of refugees are coming to Europe through Turkey, so if Ankara did not allow foreigners to illegally cross its borders while heading to the European Union, it would allow Brussels to handle the crisis.
To achieve this goal EU officials have been negotiating a highly unfavorable deal for themselves, according to which Turkey should get 3 billion euros, visa liberalization steps, and the facilitation of the accession process for Ankara to join the EU for the steps it has been demanded to make regarding the crisis.
But it seems that Erdogan has become convinced of his utter and complete immunity due to the ever growing vulnerability of the EU as a whole. Therefore he decided that he will do whatever it takes to expand his personal fortune , especially when the actions of the American and, above all, the Russian coalition began to cripple his income via the smuggling of stolen Syrian oil. After all it is now clear that behind his latest actions in Syria is his direct personal interests not only in the reconstruction of a Neo-Ottoman Empire
, but also the construction of a gas pipeline through Syria that will further increase EU energy dependency on Turkey.
That’s why he proceeded with the open and direct blackmail of its NATO allies, threatening them that he could open the borders with EU countries for refugees. In parallel, Turkey’s President at a meeting in Antalya back in November 14, 2015 demanded the EU to provide him with 30 billion euros instead of 3 for him to allegedly address the refugee crisis. He threatened his colleagues that if he’s not going to get the money he will send hundreds of thousands of migrants onward toward Europe. The details of this blackmail have been reported by a Greek site euro2day.gr, which got its hands on confidential documents from this meeting.
This kind of behavior displayed by Erdogan and his supporters can be explained by the ever increasing financial appetites of the Turkish leader, especially if one takes into account the scale of criminal activity that is connected with the flow of illegal migrants to Europe, which is providing smugglers and Turkish authorities with a staggering sum in profits. These activities have been depicted in the highly detailed report published by the Financial Times, that has shown that human smuggling is a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar business, which has been exploited by more than 40,000 criminal members. Europol described a wide range of activities that appeared around the immigration crisis: forgery, bribes, the sexual exploitation of minors that are traveling without parents, and slave labour. Europol is noting that only in 2015 the estimated turnover of criminal networks involved in illegal delivery of migrants was around 5 billion euros, while this year it has every potential to increase by 2 or even 3 times.
While Europe is trying to undertake its first timid attempts to restrict the flow of arriving migrants on its own, by attempting to use NATO ships in cooperation with the Greek Coast Guard and the European Frontex Border Guard, Ankara is making every effort to delay the start of such an operation. This fact has been reported by AFP that noted that Ankara has refused to allow NATO ships in its territorial waters that were planning to put an end to refugee smuggling operations.
Yes, that’s exactly the “friendly” attitude of the Turkish state that Europe is receiving. The ardent terrorist supporter Tayyip Erdogan seems to be convinced that he’s a prime figure upon the international stage today.
Under these circumstances, why would any sane political analyst would fail to explain why both the EU and the US keep repeating their mantra that Bashar al-Assad must step down when the absolute majority of accusations against him are groundless, while treating Erdogan in the fashion they do? Why haven’t they demanded for Turkey’s President to step down to be tried by an international tribunal that will investigate the long list of his crimes, including the continuous violation of human rights in Turkey, the outrageous genocide of the Kurdish population of Turkey, the financing of ISIS through a criminal network of oil smuggling operations, and the list goes on!
In this regard a question arises: can Western politicians be profiting from Erdogan’s actions themselves, taking a share of the money allocated to solve the crisis in Europe and the Middle East? Are they aware that complicity is a crime as well?
Martin Berger is a Czech-based freelance journalist and analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.
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