Why Merkel’s deal with Turkey won’t work

by on March 11, 2016 at 9:57 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Law, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

First, the envisioned mass group deportation of irregular migrants from Greece back to Turkey is probably illegal under Europe’s commitments to the Geneva Conventions, which calls for individual evaluation of asylum cases and not mass deportations. Judicial review of this deal may well strike it down.

Second, the 1-1 swap model with Turkey is a nonscalable fantasy. EU leaders acknowledge that it does “not establish any new commitments on Member States as far as relocation and resettlement is concerned.” In other words, European leaders assume that any refugees accepted directly from Turkey will come out of the already agreed 160,000 quota slated for relocation from inside the European Union. While EU leaders should be applauded for trying to replace illegal migration through Turkey with a new regularized and legal route for refugees to enter Europe, it defies belief that EU member states will be more willing to accept refugees directly from Turkey than they have been willing to accept relocations from fellow EU members Greece and Italy. To date only a ludicrously low 885 refugees have been relocated, a fact certain to dampen Ankara’s willingness to accept returned irregular migrants from Greece. Rather than a 1-1 swap arrangement, this deal actually appears only to be a 0.00001–0.00001 arrangement.

That is from Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, the piece has other good points too.

1 Horhe March 11, 2016 at 10:04 am

So you can have mass admissions, but not mass deportations? Caveat emptor.

Of course, the spectrum of politically palatable solutions is always widening or narrowing. There is a point where the Geneva Convention won’t be worth the paper it was printed on to a desperate nation. Or a resolute one. Keeping it from getting to that point is going to take compromise, something Frau Merkel hasn’t shown herself too willing to do.

2 Ray Lopez March 11, 2016 at 10:12 am

They had mass deportations between Greece and Turkey around the early 1920s. From this interesting German-translated-into-English history article, http://ieg-ego.eu/en/threads/europe-on-the-road/forced-ethnic-migration/berna-pekesen-expulsion-and-emigration-of-the-muslims-from-the-balkans, I learned “only 38 per cent of the Muslim population living in the Balkans region in the year 1911 remained in 1923. The rest had been expelled, had fled, had died in flight or had been killed”. The forced population exchange was generally a bad idea, as the Greek Muslims were not really Turkish and the Turkish Greeks were not really Greeks.

3 Horhe March 11, 2016 at 10:24 am

But from my understanding many more people were expelled from Turkey than from Greece. And should there be a separate category for (forced) population swaps? Let’s remember how many millions of Germans left Eastern Europe after WW2.

4 Ray Lopez March 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

I think that government sponsored acts are considered more weighty (separate category) than voluntary or spontaneous acts. Just to pick a contentious issue, I tend to agree with historian Guenter Lewy, who says the Armenian ‘genocide’ was really not, as it was not “top-down” but more spontaneous ‘bottom-up’ and lots of the casualties of roughly up to 1.5M were due to disease, i.e., negligence, vs a forced execution like in the Holocaust. Lewy points out that in transit the Turkish soldiers themselves suffered about 20+% casualty rates, same as the Armenians in the forced internal deportations, due to the gross negligence of Turkish authorities. So, to answer your question, I think ‘forced’ vs ‘voluntary’ is a big deal because a government is behind it. But otherwise not so much.

Not that anybody asked, but I wonder about the “6M Jews died in Holocaust” figure. If you strip out the Polish Jews who were killed (3m, note this is an estimate since it’s a ’round number’) from the “6M” figure, which is really 5.7m, you’re left with 2.7m, and if you strip out the USSR Jews who were killed (1m, Id.) you are left with 1.7 m, which compares with the Armenian figure of 1.5m (upper bound). See here for raw data: http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/bldied.htm So, if you assume (and I doubt Holocaust historians will agree with this, but it seems to make sense to me) that the Polish Jews and Russian Jews were killed either as part of a pogrom or due to WWII (recall both of these countries have a history of pogroms and the invasion of Operation Barbarossa resulted in many civilian deaths), rather than “on German orders” (I’d have to research this, but I’ve not seen any definitive accounts on this issue), then the Jewish Holocaust was roughly equal to the Armenian genocide in total dead. So, again, I think the distinction between the two, and it is an important distinction, was ‘bottom-up’ rather than ‘top-down’ (from Lewy’s book, which is excellent, and discounts the forged papers that show a ‘top-down’ order to kill Armenians) and “organized” vs “spontaneous”. But since western society treats the Germans as ‘civilized’ and the Turks as ‘primitive’, giving allowances for primitive countries that they would not for civilized countries, and, as I say, “top-down” and “government coerced” is considered more evil than “bottom-up” and “spontaneous”, there is a stigma to the Jewish Holocaust that escapes the Armenian Genocide. As Hit ler said in a slightly different context, the latter was largely forgotten.

Full disclosure: family legend says I’m part French, part Turkish, part Jewish, Greek, and I’d not be surprised if I was part Armenian.

5 Horhe March 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

Interesting. And how do you define your identity? Are you American, hyphenated American, citizen of the world, Filipino?

6 Ricardo March 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm

“So, if you assume (and I doubt Holocaust historians will agree with this, but it seems to make sense to me) that the Polish Jews and Russian Jews were killed either as part of a pogrom or due to WWII (recall both of these countries have a history of pogroms and the invasion of Operation Barbarossa resulted in many civilian deaths), rather than “on German orders””

This history is pretty well documented. The Nazis implemented a plan to deliberately seek out and murder Jewish civilians on the Eastern Front at the same time Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941. The Einsatzgruppen division of the SS was tasked with rounding up Jews once the Nazis occupied a new area and systematically shooting them. Later, the death camps at Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno and finally Auschwitz came on line. There is still some disagreement about when the Nazis set out to murder all European Jews instead of only Eastern European Jews but it was sometime in 1941 between June and December (the Wannsee Conference happened in January 1942 but it was a formality to loop civilian bureaucracies into decisions that had already been made in the SS and upper Nazi hierarchy). But most of the deaths did indeed come from Eastern Europe because that is where most Jews lived and where the Nazis had the most control. See Timothy Snyder, Hilberg, Browning, etc. Hilberg, who is a very distinguished historian, thought the number of dead was closer to 5 than 6 million so exact numbers are not as important as the details of how the Holocaust was carried out.

7 Jan March 11, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Ah, post WWII, when, somehow, miraculously, Europe and the world were able to handle many millions of refugees.

We just couldn’t possibly deal with a couple million today.

8 Ray Lopez March 11, 2016 at 1:56 pm

@Ricardo – no sane person disputes your general narrative about the Eastern Front, but what is unhistorical is the numerical qualification of “about 1M” in the USSR. Also, your narrative does not account for the Polish Jews, which was already subjugated before Operation Barbarossa. How come in every country except Poland (and the USSR) there is an exact number of Jewish victims but when it comes to Poland, it’s “about 3M”? Suspicious. I personally think the numbers are unknown, and given it’s hard to kill people, probably less than the canonical number of 3M. (see also “Rape of Nanking”, also possibly inflated).

9 Ricardo March 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm

“no sane person disputes your general narrative about the Eastern Front”

So you would agree that someone who expresses doubt about whether Jews killed on the Eastern Front were killed “on German orders” might need to read some more of the relevant history. The Einsatzgruppen were uniformed forces firmly in the SS hierarchy and the SS in turn reported directly to Hitler. My comment focused on this issue — I can’t reproduce in a blog comment what fills entire books and articles written by scholars about the timeline of Nazi actions and policies in different countries and occupation zones.

Considering that the Nazis destroyed many documents about their actions during the Holocaust, cremated bodies or buried victims in mass graves, and that some Jews escaped or procured false identities, it is hardly surprising that exact numbers are tough to come by. History depends on documents and pieces of physical evidence and when that has been deliberately destroyed, historians have to engage in educated guesswork and indirect inference (e.g. looking at before and after census data while accounting for documented refugee flows, interviewing survivors about their relatives, documenting the sharp decline in active houses of worship after a genocide takes place, etc.).

10 Horhe March 11, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Most of the refugees were ethnic X living in country Y being expelled to go back to country X. They were kin and had all the attending advantages. It was a traumatic process, but one that ended in the easiest sort of assimilation one could hope for.

11 Ray Lopez March 11, 2016 at 11:01 pm

@Ricardo – what I said then is true: you cannot historically and accurately reproduce the “1M” and “3M” figures for the USSR / Poland, it’s just educated guesswork. And your statement “it is hardly surprising that exact numbers are tough to come by” is false: the Nazis took detailed records, and in every other country save the USSR and Poland they have exact numbers down to the last person, on many Jews were killed or deported (including my relatives in Greece, I have even the names of the SS units that did it). But not in Poland and the USSR. You must therefore acknowledge that the “1M” and “3M’ numbers in the USSR and Poland are just good guesses, which by definition means they might be too low or too high. I’m asserting based on the fact that those regions had what amounted to a pogrom and/or civil war (recall White Russians supported the Nazis), not to mention it’s hard to kill that many people, that the numbers might be too high (BTW I once read that Stalin himself had a hand in some of the figures for Holocaust deaths, he was hardly a neutral observer). Reasonable minds therefore can differ and it’s not something written in stone. Since this forum is not set up for back and forth, this is my last word on this topic.

12 Kris March 12, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Turkish Greeks were not really Greeks

Wasn’t the West Coast of Anatolia basically part of Greece (or Greater Greece) since the time of Herodotus, and maybe even further back (since the legendary battle of Troy?) If the expelled people weren’t Greeks, what were they?

13 Em March 14, 2016 at 8:27 am

You assume he has a clue about the Ottoman populations. Proof that he’s ignorant: he calls them “Turkish” Greeks as though that makes any sense. The term Turk was to do with religion (Islam) especially during the periods we’re talking about when the Ottoman Empire had not yet become Turkey. Turks were the Muslim inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire, no matter their ethnicity. The people he’s referring to as Turkish Greeks were Christian subjects and therefore not Turkish.


14 Art Deco March 11, 2016 at 10:25 am

the Geneva Conventions, which calls for individual evaluation of asylum cases and not mass deportations.

Oh, yeah, that’ll work. And we need a personal trial for every soldier we kill, or it’s ‘extrajudicial execution’. Any judge or public interest lawyer who tries this gambit ought to be sent back with them.

15 Nathan W March 11, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Soldiers have always been legitimate targets. But, you have to actually declare war against someone first. Of course, we should not assume in asymmetric warfare that insurgents will become collectively stupid, put on uniforms, and march directly into patently superior firepower – which means that a lot of the legal frameworks around proper conduct of war are difficult to apply.

It would be good if we could revise some aspects of the international legal framework in response to this, but a big stickler is the need to acknowledge a legitimate right to revolution against dictators which makes it very hard to specify just who has and does not have “just cause” to engage in asymmetric warfare strategies. Aka, the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. ISIS clearly are not freedom fighters, as they do not offer freedom for anyone. I suggest the same applies to the Taliban. But, then, there are also legitimate freedom fighters who ally themselves for short-term strategic reasons in order to combat dictatorship or perceived illegitimate rule. it’s complicated … I hope we can somehow work out something on this in the coming decades.

16 elkins March 11, 2016 at 10:33 am

“illegal under… the Geneva Conventions”

Such a quaint notion that the old Geneva Conventions still apply.
The U.S. has been flagrantly ignoring them for many years in its foreign and domestic policy… why should European leaders suddenly have adhere to them?

17 Art Deco March 11, 2016 at 11:34 am

If they require we have lengthy court proceedings to process flash-mob migrants, they’re properly ignored. People invoking ‘international law’ are almost invariably arguing for something twee, silly, and unjust.

18 Jan March 11, 2016 at 1:49 pm

You don’t understand what “flash mob” means.

19 Art Deco March 11, 2016 at 2:54 pm

You don’t understand how to craft clever retorts and resort to fraud.

20 GoneWithTheWind March 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

Europe and in particular, Germany is in an emergency situation. Under a declared emergency, assuming the leadership is strong, the believed illegality of uncontrolled invasion by “refugees” would take a back seat to what must be done to save the country. Round them up, deport them, build barriers to prevent anymore crossing the border and then have your discussions about the Geneva convention and the possibility that it is ineffective.

21 Nathan W March 11, 2016 at 11:05 pm

What’s the emergency? Food shortages? Hospitals closing? Bridges bombed out and no goods can get to market? Flood? Drought? Famine? What’s the “emergency”?

The real emergency is in Syria, not Germany.

22 GoneWithTheWind March 12, 2016 at 8:53 pm

I assume you are joking or perhaps blind. You don’t think Germany has an emergency? Ask the women who have been raped. Ask the taxpayers paying billions to take care of the rabble. But wait and see if it is an emergency. Some cannot see what is happening but no worries it will soon be obvious to everyone.

As for Syria’s emergency that is Syria’s problem and should not be Europe’s problem. If Europe fails to act they will endure riots, civil war and insurrection.

23 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Sorry, I hadn’t realized that a few dozen rapes among a million refugees constitutes a national emergency. If so, every country on the planet should declare a national emergency until sexual violence is eradicated.

24 Rob March 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Well when it’s more like 900+ sexual assaults and rapes across 4 cities in one night, with so far 3 arrests I would say yes it’s a huge problem, what you fail to grasp is the huge difference in cultures here. In. The west women are ‘Almost equal’ in many of these third world Muslim ghettos they are viewed as cattle, to be traded and sold, covered and beaten. Then we bring them in hundreds of thousands, many unskilled and say, ‘welcome to our society’ do as you please, it’s madness, and you can bury your head in the sand but they have between 5-7 children per generation per family, so 1 million today begets 7 million in twenty years 49 the next gen and so on, goodbye euro culture, welcome Islamic doctrine

25 Alain March 11, 2016 at 11:05 am

I’m not finding the particular exemption the gasbag is talking about in the Geneva convention. I also don’t see it in the 1951 refugee convention held in Geneva.

Does anyone know where he is getting this from?

26 Art Deco March 11, 2016 at 11:38 am

Should we care? When reasons of state dictate, abrogate the bloody conventions. You don’t sign international agreements to be cute, but because they provide a certain transparency and regularity from which you benefit. Once you get lawyers showing up to demand you stick a stiletto in the eye, it’s time to abrogate the conventions and tar-and-feather the shysters.

27 Nathan W March 11, 2016 at 11:16 pm

The convention were signed in the face of the horrors of WWII, and a genuine desire to make sure that we would never again accept any such thing. While I’m not completely closed to the idea that in some rare circumstances, breaking SOME of those rules may serve for the broader good, we should not forget the historical circumstance that led to the agreements. Once we accept that one rule can be broken, why not break another, and another, and another, until we live in a brutish and uncivilized world that we sought to prevent the possibility of in the post-WWII order.

While I easily acknowledge legitimate concerns relating to refugees, in some quarters this has developed to the point of completely irrational hysteria. We should not break the Geneva Convention in response to irrational hysteria. The case must be clear and concise, acceptable (even if uncomfortably) to those whose actions and statements project a genuine interest in the greater good.

28 PD Shaw March 11, 2016 at 2:29 pm

If you mean the individual determination requirement, I think an implication of the requirement to aid those being “persecuted,” i.e. being treated differently than others, is that a state determine if an individual is being treated differently than others. The narrow and IMHO correct view is that people fleeing war zones are not being persecuted, but are fleeing common experiences of war. That said, I don’t think one could rule out as a general matter that there might be refugees within a group fleeing a war zone, in particular if a person is afraid of being drafted into an army that he reasonably believes will commit war crimes.

29 Alain March 11, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Ah, so there is no requirement and this gasbag is attempting to generate one.

Standard operating procedure of the left.

30 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 3:22 pm

” I don’t think one could rule out as a general matter that there might be refugees within a group fleeing a war zone”

I could hardly imagine a greater understatement with respect to refugees. Ummm … are not people who flee war zones by definition refugees?

31 prior_test2 March 11, 2016 at 12:04 pm

‘First, the envisioned mass group deportation of irregular migrants from Greece back to Turkey is probably illegal under Europe’s commitments to the Geneva Conventions, which calls for individual evaluation of asylum cases and not mass deportations.’

Man, that sounds like it also means the death of Asylpaket II. Oh wait, that isn’t going to happen. Admittedly, a good amount of the current German efforts against fraudulent asylum claims involves Balkan states, with Turkey having no involvement in any way, shape, or form.

Sometimes though, one could have the ever so sneaking suspicion that this web site is uninterested in actually providing a good faith depiction of the truth, or linking to people who actually know what they are talking about.

32 Jeff R. March 11, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Kirkegaard Funk would be a sweet band name.

33 Jan March 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Poor people from war-torn (or just plain destitute) parts of the world deserve nothing from us rich Americans and Europeans. In fact, they should be paying us for dropping the occasional bomb to help them out.

They were dumb and lazy enough to be born somewhere crappy. Why should we do anything for them or even, god forbid, allow any of them to live with us?

34 Chip March 11, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Your perspective is facile. The West is very open to immigration and the only modern civilization that regularly empathizes with and assists people with whom they have no cultural ties.

The problem in this case – which is so clear that you must have removed your eyes with a sharp stick not to see it – is that migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have been a destabilizing, expensive and often dangerous element once they arrive.

No one, for example, is protesting mass immigration from Asia that is in the process of turning cities like Toronto and Vancouver into Asian-majority jurisdictions.

35 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 3:28 pm

There is no mass immigration to Toronto and Vancouver. It took 100 years (although the exodus from Hong Kong to Vancouver in the late 1990s might sorta count). Also, neither Toronto or Vancouver are Asian majority jurisdictions, and will not be any time soon if ever. Richmond or the Metrotown area in metro Vancouver (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Vancouver), perhaps, or Richmond Hill in metro Toronto you’ve got quite a few (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Toronto).

36 Stephan March 11, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25-a-day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010.

They deserve better. Should they all move to Western Europe and the US ?

37 Cooper March 11, 2016 at 8:45 pm

There are 130 million households in the US and another 240 million in Europe. Each house can get its own refugee!

38 Alain March 11, 2016 at 11:01 pm

Your post has convinced me that you care deeply about these people. I am sure that you have given every last dime you have in your possession to help them. As you note you are rich in comparison and they have as much claim to those resources as you do.

39 Nathan W March 11, 2016 at 11:22 pm

One need not empty their personal accounts to have legitimacy in advocating for perspectives they believe in, much like you are allowed to advocate for foreign interventions without being obliged to go straight to the front line. Your line of thinking, if applied in a general sense, would be a barrier to collective action on any problem whatsoever, and the world would assuredly not be better for it.

40 Stephan March 11, 2016 at 11:38 pm

@Nathan Western countries have been quite generous with aid to Africa: $56 billion in 2015 alone. .The US is the largest donor.

After decades of aid, there is not much to show for it. Most seems to have been grossly wasted, stolen, and misused.


I think Bill Gates efforts make a difference though. I don’t know how much.

41 Nathan W March 12, 2016 at 4:00 am

In earlier decades, I think a lot of “aid”, especially during the Cold War, was covert influence peddling, sold to the public with images of famine victims and pleas to Christian values. Meanwhile, a lot of the aid was conditional to buying American goods and often was redirected to military rather than short-term humanitarian or long-term developmental purposes.

In recent years, there has definitely been a stronger focus on aid in the form of technical assistance, not in the traditional form of Western intellectuals taking charge of data and pushing certain decisions, but genuinely in the form of capacity building in analytics for effective public policy targeting. Among others, an increasing interest in metrics (a standard management tool in any organization larger than just a handful of people) is a big deal.

While I’m honestly not sure of the overall numbers on the broader situation, anecdotally, as a translator and editor in development research, more than half of my work pertains to projects where leading developing country intellectuals are funded with an expectation of building new and young teams, which ideally include at least one woman, with paid-for access to Western experts to guide their individual and team capacity on technical problems in modelling and data analysis. A minority of projects, say, 1/4, involve projects which are primarily geared towards the development of effective accountability mechanisms to ensure that public resources including aid are directed more efficiently and with more transparency to decision making processes – a greater share of aid these days is distributed on the basis of satisfying hurdles to prove that such accountability mechanisms meet certain criteria. A very small number of projects still essentially amount to Western intellectuals performing 100% of the analysis, but this is mostly in cases where existing capacity is so low that no country nationals can be found to perform the research which is deemed necessary for efficient public policy targeting, while in some other cases this is Western intellectuals engaged in more theoretical explorations or criticisms in order to explore potentially better methodologies.

That having been said, while things are improving, I think the risk of aid systematically promoting the development of a system which drives very poor economic allocations is a very real problem – hence, an increasing share of aid is distributed to programs delivered at the local level where local informational inputs and advocacy are relevant to the resource allocation (sometimes portrayed as a sort of proto-democracy tool, but with the caveat that it should not go so far as to undermine the legitimacy of existing authorities). If you’re skeptical of the general perspective, I can take some time and dig up some firmer corroboration.

42 cliff arroyo March 12, 2016 at 1:10 am

Open borders are less than optimal?

Who’d of thunk it?

43 a March 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm

> Jacob Funk Kirkegaard

Great name!

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