The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) states that the agreement between Turkey and the EU on a way to deal with the refugee crisis has, in reality, collapsed. The head of the UNHCR's European office Vincent Cochetel, expressed his doubts and concerns over the EU-Turkey agreement on immigration, following the failed coup attempt in the country.
In an interview he gave to Agence Europe, Mr. Cochetel speaks of a "de facto suspension" of the agreement, since after the failed coup, the Turkish officials who acted as liaisons have been recalled and have not been remplaced. As such, he explained, no refugees are being returned to Turkey.
Specifically, when asked about the current status in the agreement between EU-Turkey, Mr. Cochetel said that: "it is too early to ascertain the extent to which the developments in Turkey will have a significant impact to the refugee arrivals in EU. Yet the agreement is de-facto on hold, since there are no negotiators (on the Turkish side) any more. Since the coup, the Turkish officers who operated as mediators have returned to their countries and therefore, relocations have stopped. At the same time, the coup attemp has created complications as to the achievement of several goals in the March 18 Agreement".
Mr Cochetel further estimated that Greek authorities are able to manage the recent increase in refugee arrivals on the Greek islands. Although there has been a small increase in the refugee influx towards Greece in the pas two weeks, the actuals numbers remain very low. To tell the truth, the influx remains low since the refugees know that the path towards main Europe remains closed, while the recent terrorist attacks are a further aspect which plays a significant role.
As for the "relocation mechanism", there are major delays. Of the 66,400 refugees currently in Greece awaiting relocation to other EU member states, only 268 people have been relocated as of the 27th of July. It is well known, that there are still problems in the registration of the people and the processing of asylum requests in Greece, while the other EU countries, even before the terrorist attacks, have not seem willing to accept any refugees.
Although, the implementation of the agreement is a basic requirement for "visa" Turkey must comply with all requirements of the agreement for the refugees, in order to ensure visa-free travel for Turkish citizens who want to travel to Europe. Specifically, Turkey needs to implement needs to implement at least five of the requirements set by EU, including the change of the definition that the Turkish state uses for the terrorism, so as not to prosecute journalists and academics.
Finally, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Ankara would back out of an agreement to stem the flow of irregular migrants to EU, if Brussels failed to deliver visa-free travel for its citizens by October.
Hopefully we will not face any other problems on the Immigration Issue and Turkey will finally implement the agreement to the most possible level.