Donatella Della Ratta on Thu, 28 Apr 2016 23:22:48 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> EU-Turkey deal, the refugee crisis and Tsipras' government

   Hi there

   I recently visited Greece to monitor the refugees situation...
   I'd love to share with this great crowd some thoughts about the EU
   -Turkey deal and how it effects not only refugees and asylum-seekers,
   but also Greek democracy

   copying the article below, it was originally published on Open



   twitter @donatelladr

The EU-Turkey deal: unjust and short-sighted


   Sending citizens who are fleeing one authoritarian regime to another
   authoritarian regime will only result in more anger, frustration
   and extremism in the years to come.

   The Pope's visit to Lesbos last Saturday has put the Greek islands in
   the spotlight yet again after the media exposure in the summer of 2015
   when thousands of Syrian refugees reached its shores trying to build a
   new -- and possibly safe -- life in Europe.

   These days you don't easily come across refugees in town. The Greek
   authorities, with the help of international NGOs and volunteers who are
   supported by an amazingly welcoming local population, have managed to
   move the refugees to facilities built on the island in the hope of
   relocating them to other EU countries on a quota-based system. This was
   before 20 March, when new procedures that were agreed upon in the
   recently signed deal between the EU and Turkey were set in

   People arriving in Greece after 20 March face an unknown fate -- which
   includes a very likely return to Turkey -- unless they are assessed to
   be legitimate asylum seekers. Herein lies the first problem with this
   agreement (and there are several): who is going to hold interviews and
   register asylum requests before assessing them and deciding who is to
   stay in Europe and sent back to Turkey? Is this a task that should be
   performed by Greece? Is the EU going to send skilled personnel --
   interpreters, lawyers, etc -- to help out?

   What I saw a few days ago in Lesbos were Greek organisations run by
   good-hearted people, helped by volunteer European youth and a few NGOs
   that agreed to stay and try to work after many of the others decided
   -- quite rightly -- to leave in protest against an outrageous agreement.

   It is as if we have gone back a century to the similar attitudes of
   those to former colonies; the problem is passed onto others who have to
   clean it up. Yet in this case the one in charge of the dirty job is a
   non-European state -- Turkey -- which is not only a former coloniser (the
   Ottoman empire) in the eyes of the Syrians, it is also an
   authoritarian regime suppressing freedom of speech, people's dignity
   and human rights, i.e. exactly the same reasons why hundreds of
   thousands of Syrians are fleeing from home.

             "The unwillingness to deal with the refugee issue proactively and the
             blindness of looking at it as a mere security problem will
             paradoxically creating a security problem in the future.

   In order to relieve our exhausted democracies, which are losing
   stability, social security and already mourning the welfare state, we
   did not hesitate to cover up and turn a blind eye to all these issues
   brought up when Turkey wanted to enter the 'Union'. Today, in the eyes
   of Europeans, Turkey is not deemed a repressive regime. On the
   contrary, it is considered a driving economy, perfectly integrated into
   our neoliberal system with breathtaking landscapes to offer worn-out
   middle class vacationers looking to find a couple of weeks of enjoyment
   and relief from too much work, or no-work, in a time of post-austerity

   European governments have buried these issues in the hope of finding a
   temporary solution to the refugee crisis, which risks taking extreme
   right-wing xenophobic parties to power as well as igniting feelings of
   frustration, anxiety, and instability amongst their populations. We
   have not considered the long-term consequences of this move.

   Do we really think sending citizens who are fleeing one authoritarian
   regime to another authoritarian regime will not result in more
   extremism, anger, frustration, and hatred in the years to come? How
   might a Syrian citizen feel in a couple of years vis-a-vis this
   European Union that he had dreamed of as the land of human rights and
   dignity? Our EU politicians underestimate the long-term scenario and
   the threats to stability that could ensue after raising another
   generation on hatred.

   I am pretty sure that EU politicians do not watch ISIS videos -- at
   least not the ones in Arabic that do not feature beheadings and blood.
   Instead, they feature a crowd of second or third generation Europeans
   speaking Arabic with French, Flemish, German accents: the offspring of
   our 'progressive Europe' hating their own homeland because of a
   never-forgotten past of violent colonialism and an endless present of
   exclusion and racism. If our politicians watched these videos they
   would perhaps not be so confident in their approach to containing
   extremism and preventing terrorism.

   Meanwhile, the Greeks are left alone with this crisis. Out of a
   serendipitous feeling of mutual understanding between Mediterraneans,
   those who have suffered the injustice of an authoritarian regime and
   those who are suffering the repressive yet --democratically-- acceptable
   brutality of a neoliberal system, things are kind of working out.

   Where does EU support lie? In the financial aid given to Turkey, and in
   the formal declarations that each member will take a certain number of
   refugees? And when is this supposed to happen, if in Greece now there
   aren--t enough skilled personnel to guarantee fair interviews,
   assessments, resettlement policies?

   The absence of the EU signals not only the unwillingness to deal with
   the refugee issue proactively, but also the blindness of looking at it
   as a mere security problem, paradoxically creating a security problem
   in the future. It also betrays the wish to see Tsipras' government --
   which has not collapsed under financial pressure -- fail on a
   humanitarian issue.

   It is unfair, to say the least, for this Europe of 'human rights' to
   use the Syrian tragedy to bury both humanity and democracy in the name
   of short-sighted realpolitik.

   About the author

   Donatella Della Ratta is Post-Doctoral Fellow at University of
   Copenhagen, where she obtained her PhD on the politics of Syrian TV
   drama. She has managed the Arabic speaking community of the
   international NGO Creative Commons for five years, and co-curated
   several exhibitions about Syrian emerging creativity in the context of
   the  uprising, and she is a co-founder of the web aggregator
   SyriaUntold. She maintains a blog on Arab media
   at http://mediaoriente.comand tweets avidly at @donatelladr.

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