Today, there is a sense of joy among the EU and Turkish politicians; a joy that is shared and reported enthusiastically by the mainstream Turkish and European media.
The main headlines give the good news in big bold letters: ''Visa free travel for Turkish citizens to EU countries!''
But wait! There is a much smaller, almost invisible sub-heading underneath this joyfully breaking story: ''Readmission Agreement to be signed between EU and Turkey on December 16''.
And the horror hits you!
The EU has been working hard to get Turkey to sign the Readmission Agreement that will enable EU countries to deport back the undocumented migrants who entered into EU territories via Turkey.
This agreement is another step in EU's 'fortress Europe' border and immigration policies. And the deal is as such: Turkey to sign the Readmission Agreement and in return, EU will consider the easing-off the visa regulations and procedures for Turkish citizens.
Why Turkey and what is is in it for Turkey?
Turkey is seen as one of the major gateways for undocumented migrants coming into Europe. There is also some human trafficking activity between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. Therefore this agreement is extremely important for EU in its ongoing clampdown on migrants. The 'carrot' for Turkey is the promise of 'visa free travel' and a more favourable position in the ongoing EU accession discussions.
"Dream on..." comes to mind when thinking of this 'visa for deported migrants' trade agreement. The details of this agreement do not in anyway guarantee a visa free travel for Turks. Turkish citizens should note the date of December 16th. If ever, a visa free travel to EU will not be possible for many years to come. And the signs are that the only future beneficiaries of this visa arrangement will most likely be the international investors, businessmen/women and the elite, upper class Turks. There are no official arrangements or plans in place for the free travel for all Turkish workers and ordinary citizens.
With this new agreement, we see the EU/Frontex border control policies in action again. EU is now setting up partnerships with countries like Turkey to outsource the issue of migrants instead of looking after people and providing them with free, legal and safe passage, and proper procedures for applying for documented migrant status.
Turkey, in order to qualify for this promised 'eased-off' visa procedures and conditions, will have accept the deported migrants and send them back to their home countries.
You can see how the governments can popularise and sell racist ideas and inhumane policies to their citizens: EU governments will present this agreement as "a solution to an ongoing problem" and that "the number of migrants staying in the EU being reduced". Turkey, on the other hand, will sell this agreement as "an opportunity that will enable its citizens to travel to EU without a visa". This agreement will be presented as a win-win situation for EU and Turkey. The only losers will be the desperate migrants and their hopes for a better future. I guess we live in a free-trade, free-market system but obviously not in a free to migrate world. When it comes to international business, a migrants future does not matter.
EU and the immiration policies
We have seen the horrific tragedy in Lampedusa (Italy) where more than 300 hundred migrants died at sea. Since this tragedy, there have been at least 5 more similar incidents. Unfortunately, such tragedies are not reported widely and any short media attention to these events usually do not drill deep into the analysis of the real situation.
During last two decades there have been more than 20000 migrant deaths at see. As EU continues to militarise its borders using the border control agency Frontex, this "Readmission Agreement" is a reaction to its failed, inhuman immigration and asylum policies.
Migrants and asylum seekers are increasingly seen by the EU governments as 'criminals'. The right to seek asylum and migrate is presented as a criminal act. EU policies on asylum seekers and the wider immigration have failed miserably and they have hurt many people...
As the EU leaders and bureaucrats continue to bang on the drums of 'immigration crisis' and 'problems caused by the asylum seekers'we should remember a few points:
Firstly, the history of Europe is also the history of all sorts of migrations. Migrants are not new to Europe and nothing, that has gone fundamentally wrong in Europe is due to the incoming migrants or asylum seekers.
Secondly, seeking asylum is a right and a very natural response by people to terrible conditions in their own countries. Migration and seeking asylum must be seen, above all, as a humanitarian situation and must receive a humane response. There is nothing more understandable than a mother's attempt to create a better/safer life for her children, families running away from extreme poverty, people running away from wars, torture, oppression and dictatorial regimes etc. Packing a boat by 4-5 times of its capacity and hoping to cross the wast see is not a life style or an easy choice for these migrants. It is also not an act of blind madness. It is a necessary response to their objective conditions.
Thirdly, EU has never implemented inclusive, welcoming and accommodating policies for migration. Asylum seekers are always stigmatised and marginalised, migrants are always seen as the "others". At times of crises, migrants and asylum seekers are always attacked as easy targets.
Today, for many asylum seekers and migrants there is simply no democratic, safe and legal way to come to Europe. These people must first make it into an EU country by whatever way they can before making an application for protection. That's why many people have no choice but to trust the human traffickers with their lives and the lives of their children. Don't these migrants know the dangers of crossing the sea in an overcrowded old boat? Of course they do. But instead of dying from poverty, war, torture back at home, they at least want to die trying. It is not a pleasant journey these people are making but a 'journey of necessity and hope'.
What would you do if you were an Iraqi, Afghani, Syrian civilian who lost everything?
Finally, the EU leaders who constantly talk about the 'crisis of illegal immigration' are also the same leaders who started wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, who supported and sold arms to middle-eastern/ African dictators, who grabbed ever bit of fresh water sources and fertile land in Africa and with the help of local rulers, forced IMF policies and privatisation upon the poor nations of the world. These are the very same leaders whose policies are killing the planet and causing 'not-so-much' natural and environmental disasters and destroying the lives of millions
Why do we have drought and famine in Africa? Is it all because of gods anger? Why are there 5 million displaced people in Afghanistan and 2 million in Iraq? Why are western governments and arms companies selling billions of Euro worth of arms to some of the most oppressive regimes in the world?
The EU leaders and governments are not suffering from a memory loss. They are just hoping that we won't remember all these and that we won't ask questions? What were they expecting? That the killing zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, or the dictatorial African regimes not to have an effect in number of asylum seekers and migrant coming Europe? Millions of Nigerians live under 2 Dollars a day. Many of the farmers in Central African countries have their natural water sources taken away from them by multi-national corporations. And despite all of these, there is not and there never was, an immigration crisis in Europe. Each and every decade we are fed with statistical lies and political perceptions that are presented as facts.
The new agreement between Turkey and EU is a sinister setup and it clearly shows that the EU governments have no real interest in human rights, well-being and safety of people. They can now happily deport the undocumented migrants and outsource the issue to Turkey. Turkey will do it's job as a close ally and an EU hopeful to further deport these people back to places where they had run away from.
These ever worsening border and immigration control policies are clear examples of institutional inter-state racism. The human traffickers may be bringing migrants into Europe but the states will now assume the role of trafficking them back.
None of these measures will stop migrants from coming into Europe. Because it is not a choice but a necessity for people. They will continue to try to enter Europe.
The new agreement will certainly push them into more dangerous and risky routes. They will be even more dependent on the human traffickers in order not to be caught and deported back.
Human traffickers who couldn't care less about the safety and well-being of migrants will benefit from all of this. They will certainly be more expensive and more ruthless.
And migrants, many more children, young, women and men will die on the way to Europe.
The Readmission Agreement is a shameful chapter in Turkey – EU relations and must be rejected by the Turkish parliament.
A better, a much better world for everyone is possible.