• Valentina Koumoulou

The Relationship between the EU and Turkey throughout the Refugee Crisis

Turkey has been a candidate member of the European Union (EU) for a significantly long period. More specifically, Turkey applied for membership in 1987 [1], but the exact criteria were not established until 1993 at the European Summit in Copenhagen[2]. Its official candidate status was given in 1999[3] and the country has made progress in order to comply with most of these criteria, especially with regards to handling the Syrian refugee crisis.

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Turkey’s Status on the Refugee Crisis

Turkey has been dealing with the refugee crisis since the beginning in 2011 [4], having a geographical position that allowed it to be a barrier between the East and the West. The financial support by the EU in order to keep the refugees within its borders has been significant. Throughout the crisis, Turkey has been welcoming the biggest number of refugees, reaching more than 3.6 million [5]. This has affected the native population with regards to unemployment rates, housing and goods pricing[6]. More specifically, the influx of refugees has increased the prices of food and rent, while the local economy found itself in a very dire state, making it hard for locals to cope with everyday life. In addition to that, employers prefer to hire refugees because they work without insurance and benefits, so the cost is much lower than hiring natives [7]. A social gap has been created and tensions begin to slowly rise, while also affecting the trust and support of the Turkish people to their government. The relationship with Europe as well as the political popularity of Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have been challenged.

The EU-Turkey Agreement

To relieve these tensions, a few European countries accepted to take in a significant percentage of refugees, such as Greece, Germany, Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands[8], but others like Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary strongly refused to abide by EU law and take in the required