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1/23/16

Refugee Crisis: The EU’s Turkey Connection -Turkey is not living up to the bargain - by Holger Schmieding

Turkey matters. But Europe has to tread carefully as Turkey itself is in a precarious situation. I see a good chance that Europe (specifically Germany) and Turkey can work out a deal that will lead to a slower flow of refugees from Turkey into Greece.

One year ago, almost all eyes were on Russia and its war against Ukraine. Now, Europe’s attention needs to focus more on Turkey.

Almost as in the case of Russia, Europe may not like the government it has to deal with. But it has to deal with it nonetheless.

Last year, Turkey allowed 800,000 refugees to cross into Greece, mostly in the second half of the year. At the same time, the stream of boat people from northern Africa into Spain or Italy, which had made headlines earlier on, played a much smaller role.

This shows that, if transit countries police their sea borders, as Morocco and Mauritania have done in the past two years with some crucial support from Spain, the inflow of refugees can be reduced significantly.

Turkey itself is in a precarious position driven by significant domestic tensions. As a mostly Sunni country, it could become a more frequent target for IS terrorists from next door.

That risk has increased since Turkey seems to have hardened its initially rather permissive stance toward support for IS.

The conflict with the strong Kurdish minority in Turkey’s southeast has flared up badly again. Protests of the urban middle class against the authoritarian tendencies of President Recep Erdogan may easily erupt again as well.

With a current account deficit of 5% of GDP, Turkey’s economy is vulnerable to sudden capital outflows. Serious trouble within Turkey, a country with some 80 million inhabitants, would be a nightmare scenario for Europe.

Read more: Refugee Crisis: The EU’s Turkey Connection - The Globalist

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