EU, Turkey Reach Agreement On Syrian Migrants
The European Union reached an agreement by which Syrian refugees who reach Europe will be processed through Greece and then sent back to Turkey.
After being processed, they will be redistributed among the EU member states which will accept them on a 1 to 1 basis: For each refugee taken back by Turkey, another one will be taken in by an EU member state. The migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands will be returned to Turkey, starting from March 20.
Since 2015, approximately 857,000 people have crossed into Greece from the Aegean Sea, and since the March 7 EU-Turkey summit, close to 11,000 have come ashore on the Greek islands, bringing the total on that route to 144,000 to date, according to United Nations estimates.
“How this plan is to be implemented is thus going to be crucial. Ultimately, the response must be about addressing the compelling needs of individuals fleeing war and persecution. Refugees need protection, not rejection,” said the United Nations’ refugee agency said in a press release.
Whether the agreement is first step forward or backward will depend on the involved nations’ willingness to abide by their commitments, Paul Taylor of Reuters notes.
For the agreement to work will require Turkey to adequately redeploy its military forces to close down the very lucrative smuggling business at a time when President Tayyip Erdogan has more pressing priorities.
Conversely, he adds, in order for Greece to process the refugees will “require a transformation of its threadbare asylum and justice systems with scant resources and uncertain EU assistance.”
Such reform will be a tall order because the European Court of Human rights has judged Athens’ system “so poor that it ruled that sending migrants back there from other European countries was inhumane,” Taylor says.
Immigration Inspires Emotions, But Also Sparks Entrepreneurs
There is no doubt that immigration has dominated the conversation during the 2016 election season, but it has often been driven by emotion and controversial rhetoric.
As Republicans prepare to hold their caucuses in Arizona, a state dramatically impacted by illegal immigration, a new study reports that immigrants have started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion dollars or more.
Furthermore, they are key members of management or product development teams in over 70 percent (62 of 87) of these companies, according to the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan think tank.
In terms of contributing to job growth, the study found that each startup company created an average of 760 jobs. The collective value of the 44 immigrant-founded companies is $168 billion, which is close to half the value of the stock markets of Russia or Mexico, the authors note.
Columnist: Syria Shows The Tragic Consequences Of US Inaction
The contrast could not be clearer between the half-measures and wavering commitment toward resolving the Syrian crisis coming that has typified the Obama administration and the purposeful strategy and calculated actions that characterize the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Peter Mulherin writes in the online magazine Quadrant.
Through the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the absence of US leadership is partly responsible for the deaths of a quarter of a million Syrians.
“What the West hopes to achieve in Syria is uncertain, other than the destruction of the Islamic State. This should be a comparably easy goal to achieve, considering the fact that no state officially supports the group. What is certain, is that the United States’ influence in the region has dropped to historic lows, as countries more willing to get hands dirty in pursuit of their goals have emerged. Thanks to the benefit of hindsight, it’s now clear that the US should have acted earlier, and more decisively in Syria,” asserts Mulherin.
Phillip Stephens makes the case in The Financial Times that Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate the limits of US power, but that the fear or aversion to taking any action can be as damaging rushing into another war.
“To observe that the US cannot solve every problem in a disordered world should not be to conclude it is powerless. Disorder is contagious and does not respect neat lines drawn around core national interests,” argues Stephens.
Unlike Mulherin, Stephens is not convinced that bold action by the US would have been enough to prevent that carnage that the Syrian crisis has produced.