The Refugee Challenge Calls for Exceptional Urgent Measures

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

BRUSSELS (IDN) – With the 28-nation EU desperately trying to find a solution to the unprecedented inflow of people seeking international protection and a better life, the size of the problem and the political battlefield are seriously damaging European cooperation and undermining citizens’ trust in the European project.

However, the proposals presented by the European Commission six months ago were reasonable and fair. Strengthening EU’s diplomacy to resolve the Syrian conflict, stepping up assistance to the countries neighbouring Syria, reinforcing external border controls and relocating 40,000 refugees based on a fair distribution key – all these made complete sense and could have been an adequate answer to the situation, at that point in time.

But Member States didn’t play ball. The shameful lack of solidarity, pure selfishness and political short sightedness of a number of (especially new) Member States frustrated any attempt to manage the situation in a reasonable and serene way. Despite all the (European) Councils, precious time has been lost and the situation today is worse than ever before, threatening to hurt the very fundaments of the EU.

Minor Compromises Are Worthwhile For Better EU-Turkey Relations

By Michael Leigh* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

Sir Michael Leigh is a Senior Advisor at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

WASHINGTON (IDN | GMF) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s dash to Istanbul on October 18 was a gift to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan is hoping that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will regain its majority in the November 1 general election, after a setback last June, enabling him to call a referendum to strengthen the president’s constitutional powers.

The outcome of the general election could, therefore, settle Turkey’s political fate for years to come, and accentuate the country’s drift toward authoritarian, sectarian rule.

The chancellor’s visit, in the midst of the refugee crisis and after Turkey’s most lethal terrorist attack in decades, was intended to win the Turkish president’s support for a joint action plan to stem refugee flows that are undermining the EU’s internal open borders policy. Merkel’s trip followed the postponement of the European Commission’s annual report on Turkey until after the Turkish election. Insiders claim that the delay occurred for internal procedural reasons.

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