Europe Will Pay Turkey €3 Billion To Halt Refugee Exodus

In the aftermath of last week's dramatic events which have seen Turkey make a unilateral breach of NATO's unwritten rules of engagement by taking down a Russian jet, coupled with an assault on civil right and expression of speech when two journalists were arrested for exposing Turkish arms smuggling to Syria, culminating with the assassination of a prominent enemy of the state on live TV, one would expect that the "democratic, humanistic" western countries would at least issue a harsh condemnation of Erdogan's behavior.

That won't happen: instead, the European Union will pay Turkey $3.2 billion to help it stop the flow of refugees to Europe from the conflict in Syria, 2.2 million of whom are currently in Turkey and to prevent Europe's worst refugee crisis from getting even worse.

In addition, the banana republic that is Turkey will be one step closer to joining the European Union as EU accession talks are restarted. As AFP reminds us, Turkey is the main gateway for migrants and refugees to reach Europe and Brussels has been wooing Ankara for months to secure its cooperation, but relations remain difficult and the devil will be in the details of the deal they will reach on Sunday.

According to Reuters, Turkey will help the European Union handle the flow of migrants that has called into question the future of Europe's passport-free travel in exchange for cash and restarting stalled talks on EU accession, draft conclusions of an EU-Turkey summit said.

"Both sides will, as agreed and with immediate effect, step up their active cooperation on migrants who are not in need of international protection, preventing travel to Turkey and the EU, ensuring the application of the established bilateral readmission provisions and swiftly returning migrants who are not in need of international protection to their countries of origin," the draft, seen by Reuters, said.

In exchange, Turkey will get 3 billion euros of initial aid to handle the refugees on its territory. The amount might be adjusted later on depending on developments, the draft said.

More rewards for Turkey are forthcoming: the EU would also open in December the next chapter of negotiations with Turkey in its accession talks to the EU, which have been dragging on since 2005, and prepare further chapters for discussion in the first three months of next year.

The EU also aims to lift the need for visas for Turks traveling to the EU in October 2016 if Ankara meets certain criteria specified in an agreed roadmap, said the draft, which may still be changed after the talks which start at 1500 GMT.

Ironically, neither Turkey's shooting down of the Russian jet nor president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to skip the summit will derail the process, which is now on auto pilot with a suddenly very worried Angela Merkel willing to do anything to prevent further millions of Syrian refugees from entering Germany.

Earlier today, Merkel confirmed that when it comes to Europe's "partners", the only thing that matters is how they can be leveraged to offset structural failures of the "union", when she said the EU will ratchet up cooperation with Turkey as leaders meet to discuss tackling the region’s refugee crisis. There was, again, no mention of Erdogan's brutal crackdown on any political dissent.

Among the things Merkel told reporters ahead of the EU-Turkey meeting is that "a significant part of this EU-Turkey action plan will be about how we can replace illegal migration with legal migration, how we can improve the situation for refugees in Turkey. Turkey is sheltering well more than 2 million refugees and has received only little international support, so rightly expects that the European Union, the member states will alleviate Turkey in tackling this burden."

What she really meant is that another 2 million refugees entering Germany could well destabilize the political tenure of the iron chancellor.

She then said that the EU deal with Turkey will entail improving conditions for refugees in Turkey as well as “shutting down the networks of smugglers and traffickers, to enable legal migration." Oddly, there was no mention of a crackdown on the Islamic State's funding networks.

Finally, she said that leaders will also discuss visa liberalization for Turkey, moving forward with EU accession talks and repatriating migrants into Turkey.

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To summarize: Turkey has been instrumental in not only arming, but financing the Islamic State, whose actions in Syria have led to an unprecedented exodus of refugees mostly through Turkey, which Europe is now hoping to bribe so it will lock down its borders and keep those millions of refugees on the territory of Turkey, or ideally, just send them packing back to the nation they are desperate to flee. And for masterminding all of this, Europe will pay Turkey billions and put it back on its European Union accession route, eliminating the need for visas for Turkish citizens.

Next we look forward to learn how much that other key entry gateway of the migrant pathway into Europe - Greece - will demand, now that the EU's desperate starting bid to halt the refugee flow has been revealed. We expect Athens to settle for nothing less than a cool €1-2 billion as it demands the same treatment as Turkey.