According to “Jamestown” Foundation columnist Armen Grigoryan, Turkey greatly contributed to the migration crisis by abusing the tolerance of European officials
– Mr. Grigoryan, the terrorist attacks carried out in November 2015 in Paris and last week in Brussels speak of the challenges that Europe is facing today. First, why is all this happening?
– There are various explanations, in particular, we can view the ongoing processes in the connotation as traditio versus ratio (tradition vs. reason), the old vs. new. The mentality based on the traditionally limited outlook, conflicting with Western democracy, secularism, advancement of sciences, freedom of expression, equality of people and other expressions of modernization and being uncompetitive, is trying to preserve its existence by applying to any measurements. Guiding and exploiting people bearing similar outlook is quite easy.
– European officials are stating that they accept the gauntlet thrown by terrorists but so far the aspiration to fight unanimously does not produce results. What ways do you see for coming out of the crisis and making Europe secure again?
– The Europe solving in the past the problem of the “Red Brigades” and other terrorist groups can solve this problem too. In those times, there were also positively disposed people against the terrorists and the supporting foreign forces, due to ideological reasons. The terrorists groups acting under the religious guise somehow complicates the issue but the improvement of the strategy and tactics against them is happening gradually.
– The fact of terrorism in Europe leads to a wave of complaints against refugees. To what extent are these problems connected with each other and in general, how do you see the solution to the problem of refugees?
– Terrorism is not carried out in participation of recently arrived refugees who have left their countries because of hostilities, the terrorists are born in Western European countries or at least have received citizenship a few years ago. The discontent against refugees created a fertile ground for demagogues.
Certainly, the ongoing mass immigration causes some additional risk in terms of penetration of potential criminal elements, moreover, given that the majority of migrants has no grounds for asylum. However, the mechanisms to distinguish the management of migration flows, registration of asylum seekers and those who actually need protection from applicants by false pretexts are also aimed at the solution of this problem. It is another question that both these mechanisms and social security systems are not perfect. In Western European countries, many of the extremist Islamist preachers have already been benefiting from refugee status and the generous material support under the pretext of being persecuted in Egypt, Algeria and other countries.
– The EU until the end of 2018 will provide 6 billion euros to Turkey to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees. Turkey becomes more and more demanding in its relations with the EU but many people believe that the refugees anyway will be moved to Europe. What problem are the EU and Turkey solving at this stage regarding the refugees?
– The agreement reached between the EU and Turkey stipulates that those who have arrived from Turkey and do not have grounds for asylum will be deported to Turkey and the same number of Syrian refugees will be moved from Turkey to EU. It is impossible not to mention however that Turkey greatly contributed to the migration crisis by abusing the tolerance of European officials. The readmission agreement effective since October 2014 has obligated Turkey not only to accept the citizens of the third countries back who have illegally crossed the EU territory but has also obligated to exercise effective control on the border and implement a policy responsible for granting visas and migration. However, it is no secret that Turkey’s visa policy has directly contributed to illegal migration. About 40% migrants crossing from Turkey to EU have arrived from bordering Syria or Iraq. Others use the opportunity to receive a Turkish e-visa, which does not even require a photograph, arriving from Morocco, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and dozens other countries. In other words, refusing to provide online visas, Turkey can reduce the flow of migration to the EU by half. Erdoğan so far somehow successfully solves the issue of extorting concessions from the EU by artificially born crisis by evading the criticism of growing authoritarianism in Turkey because of the necessity to settle the migration problem and generally from the necessary tougher stance, even in the case when the Turkish economic dependence from the EU has been significantly increased. This situation is also criticized by many European experts.
– How would you interpret the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria? What was the goal of the Russian President? What result did he reach? What ways do you see in the future in the process of conflict settlement in the direction of establishing peace in the Middle East?
– Given the continued shelling by Russian air force, we can mention P. Felgenhauer’s opinion that the withdrawal was purely formal. In terms of settlement, perhaps no sufficient short-term solution exists. The reconciliation of the warring groups in Syria and the preservation of a common state is an extremely difficult task. On the other hand, the intervention of some foreign forces contributes to the maintenance of the current situation, being even more dangerous for the same foreign players in perspective. An example of it is Turkey’s policy to oppose the formation of a Kurdish state at any cost.
29.03.2016. “Aravot” daily