EU-Turkey Deal: The Silver Lining

Image Source: Vera Kratochvil After five years of civil war in Syria, with the flood of refugees and migrants into Europe continuing unabated, it is high time for a solution. The EU-Turkey deal, unanimously approved yesterday, claims to be that solution. However, many individuals, including humanitarian aid workers, academics, and politicians have spoken out against the deal. Many have critiqued the deal without offering any positive or optimistic perspectives. Although I am a firm believer that critical thinking and discernment should be applied to everything, in this case there has been a lack of charity given to the EU's predicament.  So here are three good things about the EU-Turkey deal.

Upholding International Law

The biggest concern of humanitarian aid workers and human rights activists leading up to the EU-Turkey negotiations was that international law would be skirted, bent, or even ignored. Thankfully, the EU-Turkey deal has chosen to respect the law. Migrants and refugees arriving in Greece will have an opportunity to apply for asylum in Greece where their claims will be processed and their status determined. If one qualifies for international protection as a refugee he or she will be resettled in Greece. If his or her claim is denied, he or she will be given an opportunity to appeal the decision before being returned to Turkey at the EU's expense.

Addressing the Root Cause

Article 9 of the EU-Turkey deal includes improving conditions within Syria itself as an objective. This reveals an important awareness that there can be no long-term change to the current situation if the civil war and presence of Daesh (also know as ISIS) in Syria are not addressed.

Reducing Human Smuggling

Human smuggling is a criminal offense under international law. A major priority of the EU-Turkey deal is to eliminate smuggling as an option for refugees or migrants seeking passage to Europe. Many have painted policy makers in a mean-spirited light for wanting to keep migrants and refugees from crossing into Europe. However, this perspective is unfair to the majority of policy makers who oppose the method of travel, not the travel itself. Smuggling strips refugees and migrants of their hard earned money which could be used to give them a fresh start when they are resettled. Smugglers also care nothing for the safety of the migrants and put their lives at risk by crowding them into vessels that are far from seaworthy. Almost 4,000 migrants have died at sea since January 2015. It is these deaths that the EU-Turkey deal hopes to end.

It must, of course, be acknowledged that this is only the blue-print of a potential solution to the refugee and migrant crisis. Effective and swift execution is essential to its success, and I will be the first to admit that I am skeptical of how well the EU and Turkey can pull together in that execution. But this plan is better than having none at all. Instead of rushing to judgment, I am choosing to wait and see how this deal unfolds.

Click here to read the whole EU-Turkey Deal.

Find critiques of the deal here from the UNHCR, Independent, and Reuters.