Sunday, December 6, 2015

6 December 2015 (Last update: 19 April 2018)

A Realistic Concept 
Without bashing of politicians and agitation against foreigners . . .

“Fortress Europe” becomes a title of honour because both is on offer: protection for the domestic population and asylum for refugees. 

1. Assessment of the situation without self-delusion and deceit:
The Dublin Regulation, which was supposed to prevent uncontrolled migration of asylum seekers, is de facto invalid since 2014. And the German government initiated a dynamic that has become almost beyond control. On 25 August 2015, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) announced via Twitter: “#Dublin procedures of Syrian citizens are de facto not pursued any more at this point in time.” On 31 August, Chancellor Angela Merkel issued the promising slogan: “We can do it!From the 4th of September on, she (in agreement with Austrias Chancellor Werner Faymann) permitted thousands of refugees and migrants who were stranded in Hungary to enter Germany without identity checks.*

In doing so, she not only committed her own population but also forced her course of action upon all the other EU citizens (without due consultation). Countless immigrants from the Orient and from Africa crossed the borders: entire families, single mothers with their children, unaccompanied minors, political persecutees, traumatised war victims, wrecked rebels, war-worn deserters, pleasure-loving fortune hunters, bloodthirsty terrorists . . .
Most of them want to stay. And more asylum seekers are coming to Europe every day . . . 

The factual maximum upper limit, however, has been passed long ago: Refugees and migrants are diverting a lot of money and human resources from other pressing priorities. Most of the housing markets, labour markets, educational sytems and social welfare systems are already hopelessly overstrained. The countries are arguing over refugee distribution quotas. The freedom to travel is in question. Many citizens voice vociferous protests. Some even turn violent . . . 

Many migrants with no right of residence resist their deportation.
And among refugees, disappointment is spreading. The Culture of Welcome has given most of them false promises: fast handling of their applications, family reunion, life outlook . . . 

The public services and civil societies certainly deserve more praise and gratitude for their humanitarian work. But this should not blind us to the reality of the crisis. Europe will still have to deal with the aftermath for quite a while – including conflicts for economic resources and terror.  

The majority of Europeans do not want to take in more immigrants. But in the future, many more will seek their salvation in Europe. And as Nobel Prize winners (2012), we EU citizens have a reputation to loose: Europe as a humanitarian union and stronghold of human rights.

2. Our politicians should do more plain talking; they should plan for the longer term; they should abandon dogmatism and noncommittal fantasy . . .

We desire a benevolent pragmatism that seeks the greatest fortune of the largest number.

Reforms are needed: The EU should stay away from areas where the Member States do it best themselves; all Council decisions should be taken by majority and not unanimously; the fight against youth unemployment should be at the top of the agenda . . . 

New financial resources: effective measures against the waste of taxpayers money and EU funds, consequent fight against tax evasion and avoidance, EU-wide introduction of a financial transaction tax and a wealth tax . . . 

3. True solidarity cannot be enforced. The former Eastern bloc countries, especially, cannot be urged to transform themselves into multicultural societies. They have already taken in hundreds of thousands refugees and migrant labourers from the Ukraine. Immigrants from the Orient and from Africa are not welcome there. 

A “fair” distribution of refugees across all countries of the EU would also attract more of them: the more there are distributed the more would come. And most dont want to be distributed anyway - they not only seek refuge but (naturally) also a better economic future in the rich countries.

4. The inadequate funding of WFP and UNHCR was a scandalous injustice and an unforgivable stupidity. How to go on?
On 4 February 2016, the London conference for Supporting Syria and the Region raised more than €9 billion. Consequently, the German government calls for a UN refugee fund to solve problems locally . . . 

Keep in mind: Some of the poorest countries bear the greatest burden when it comes to helping refugees. Lebanon, Jordan, Iran and Pakistan each have over one million refugees (registered and unregistered) within their borders. We “must help before the dam bursts!” (Abdullah II, King of Jordan)

Turkey hosts more immigrants than any other country (about 3 million). The EU should provide more support. But a policy of appeasement with the Turkish government - a policy that establishes more and more dependencies and concessions - would be an epochal mistake. The lifting of visa requirements for all Turkish citizens would certainly lead to more immigration into the EU. And Turkey’s entry to the EU would overstrain both sides by far. The desirable aim is a privileged partnership with this beautiful country at the Bosphorus.

5. Some Greek islands near the Turkish coast are no longer a pleasant living environment for the local population: immigrants cause problems, industry and tourism lie in tatters . . . . And it is very difficult to protect this external border of the EU. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) can only perform their tasks if Turkey is willing to take the unwanted immigrants back. But this uncertain in the long term.

The EU-Turkey agreement contains irregular migration in the Aegean. But it causes too many legal and practical problems. And only the Aegean islands offer options for a long-term solution of the crisis on the territory of the EU.

Ergo: an Aegean island should become a safe haven for refugees.

6. It should a sparsely populated island of 200-300 km² area. The islanders would have to be generously compensated and resettled with consideration. Government, parliament and people of Greece would have to be persuaded with great sensitivity and a multi-billion-euro stimulus package.

Asylum seekers are then given legal entry: A ferry service is established between Turkey and the island. This requires a fair agreement with Turkey. And the Geneva Convention is applied to immigrants, i.e. no entry for suspected terrorists, war criminals, economic migrants and refugees who already found security from persecution in the Middle East (like most war refugees). Entry permits are granted to persons who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Family members of refugees who are already living in Europe get a special right. Illegal immigrants and rejected asylum seekers are sent back to Turkey or to the countries of origin.

Accredited asylum seekers may settle on the island and take part in the development of the infrastructure. They can establish hospitals, kindergardens and schools. They can follow a trade or carry on commerce and, to a large extend, organise the administration themselves. The EU ensures their safety. And those who want to give up their protection status can leave at any time.
(Sadly, Australia’s Pacific Solution turned into a nightmare and made every “island solution” seem suspicious. And the debates about distribution quotas and upper limits hamper every discussion about a reasonable solution.)

Even refugees who are already living in Europe then have an alternative: They don’t have to integrate themselves in our societies. They may live near their homeland until they feel safe to return. 

Keep in mind: There are many, partly intractable problems with the integration of immigrants. And it will be very difficult to bring the Syrian war refugees back to their homeland, even when the war ends, since they are seen as traitors to their fatherland. (Presumably, returning will be made easier for refugees in the neighbouring countries.)

13 April 2018: From Legal EU Resident to Outlaw in Turkey: More Syrians Flee Germany They should be granted legal entry to Turkey. 

In particular, refugees with subsidiary protection status will be happy to move to the island if theyre allowed to make their claims for family reunification. Their applications can then get quickly processed and decided to the best interests of the children. (That alone makes the effort worthwhile. The suspension of family reunification for persons with subsidiary protection status became necessary to restrict immigration. But if we force traumatised children and young people to live separated from their parents for years, we create problems we have to fear.) 

Id est: We could do without debates about distribution quotas and upper limits. And all who are serious about humanity should (actually) agree.

But is it practicable?

7. Is there a way to a better agreement with Turkey? 
The existing Refugee Deal (signed by the individual EU States, not by the European Council) is no great achievement of foreign policy. And with its growing authoritarianism, the Turkish government is a heavy burden. Turkey itself could soon produce many refugees again (like in the 1990ties). Next to Kurds and other minorities, also oppositional ethnic Turks are systematically persecuted and antagonised now. Many of them might want to start a new life in Europe. But we Europeans do not want to import the Turkish conflicts. And if there is no “island solution” . . . 

20 January 2018: Turkey bombs Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria

Theoretically, the EU and Turkey have the legal obligation, even without an agreement, to treat all immigrants in a humanitarian way and inhibit criminal activities like migrant smuggling and human trafficking. The deal of 2016, however, which only gives protection to a group of refugees if another group risked their lives, is not humanitarian. And not only in Turkey, also in wide parts of Europe many immigrants suffer great need.

Practically, it is a permanent crisis that demands more and more acts of solidarity with strangers. But: practically, an unlimited duty does not exist. The limits of obligations are defined by the capability of the helpers. If a county is burdened beyond its capability, it cannot be be obliged to respect a right that provides help to citizens of other countries.

And Turkey is already faced with a mountain of problems. The dimensions are dramatic: The proverbial Anatolian hospitality reaches its limits. Democracy reaches its limits. The government reaches its limits . . .

National self-preservation is the supreme principle for all countries, and in extreme emergency situations, it allows all governments the implementation of the state of emergency law. But the Turkish government harms its own interests if it goes too far – if it suppresses the people too much with anti-terror laws and puts its relations with foreign powers at risk. 
And the government knows this. It tries to find the right balance. 

The big Community of values - committed to the ideals of Enlightenment - must seek the partnership with this authoritarian country. The EU needs Turkey not only for the solution of the refugee crisis but also for the fight against the IS, for ending the civil war in Syria, for the settlement of the Cyprus question . . . . The EU has close economic relations with Turkey. Many people of Turkish background live in the EU . . . 

Conciliation is of great interest to both sides. And the existing agreement should only be a first step to master the immigration disaster. A humane solution must include safe and legal routes into the EU. At least one special zone, managed jointly by Turkey and the EU, should be set up on the Turkish coast. 

But how can this be done when the EU also must provide protection for Turks who are being persecuted by their own government?
Answer: This cannot be done.

The Turkish government already requests from some EU countries the extradition of Turkish citizens. At this point in time, there is rather the danger that Turkey withdraws from the existing agreement. And what then? Then, we would have to look for other partners in the Middle East. And we would have a confrontation with Turkey, which no sensible person wants.

With the denunciation of the agreement, however, Turkey would harm itself in many fields. And with repeated threats that are not followed up with action, the government weakens its negotiating position. More far-sightedness and willingness to reform is required. As the basic issue is Turkeys steady integration in the International Community that, according to its Charta, has noble aims: securing world peace, protection of human rights, promotion of international cooperation . . .

The government in Ankara should listen more to voices of the people again. And one hears many reasonable things: respect for civil rights, freedom of the press, solid bilateral relationships, reviving tourism, increasing research and development expenditures, high value-added production – lots of good arguments to remain open for money and ideas from East and West. 

The reward for all the hard work would be an agreement between upright-walking human beings. There will be no visa liberalisation. And the negotiations about Turkey’s entry to the EU will be put on ice.** But the dialogue should be continued, of course. What is on offer is more support for Turkey refugee response and a privileged partnership: strong, lasting relations with customs union and free-trade area and with concrete projects for the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises in the health and education sectors. And naturally, there could be a much better common foreign and security policy: a determined fight against terrorism, extremism and organised crime . . . 

8. A realistic concept is one thing. The practical implementation might be something else. 
Only the Aegean islands offer possibilities for a long-term solution of the crisis on the territory of the EU. But there are already tremendous problems. 

March 2017: Overall, there are more than 62,000 refugees and migrants living in Greece now. About 16,000 are living on the islands of Lesbos, Leros, Samos, Kos und Chios.

18 March: EU-Turkey migration deal looks wobbly a year later 

The conditions In the hopelessly overcrowded reception camps are degrading for a long time, and they have already led to heavy riots. The Greek government wants to improve the situation with the building of solid accommodations and alternative quarters – it says. It even has plans to set up an internment camp on a small island in order to place rampaging nomads. But local communities are putting up increasingly harsh resistance against the enlargement of homes for unwanted immigrants. And also on the mainland – where parts of the population dependent on emergency shelters and soup kitchens - social tensions and political conflicts are rising.

The Greek government itself is putting up resistance against the resumption of the Dublin Regulation. Since 15 March 2017, asylum seekers can be sent back to the country of first entry to the EU. At the same time, recognised refugees should be distributed to other Member States. But the Greeks cannot rely on the Resettlement Program. Hence, the government tries to build a front with other first receiving countries like Italy, Malta and Bulgaria, in oder to avoid the “new Dublin”.

The poor Greeks become victims of the Arab Spring. And the big Community of values does not know a remedy?

What is actually the reason for this failure of the EU?
Is it the economic crisis in Greece? Is it the lethargy of bureaucracy? Why is the Greek government not able to do justice to its commitments with the available EU funds? Answer: Since it is not only a matter of money, of course. In March 2016, the EU has promised to send 4,000 experts for asylum procedures to Greece – a few dozen have come. And many Member States dont even want to receive a fraction of the refugee quotas they have promised. One must suspect that without the continuous work of aid organisations, the situation would be much more dramatic for quite some time now. 

This is a dead end - you better stay away! Thats the signal to all protection seekers.

Failure belongs to the deterrence strategy. 
Together with the closing of the Balkan route, this strategy is quite successful. But the question is: For how much longer?

In general: Only that which is sustainable is truly ethical. 
What a pity for this beautiful concept! It is impossible to imagine where we would be today if we had already discussed it in the year of 2015.

We finally must stop to embarrass ourselves in front of the whole world! 
At least, weve learned a few more things. And perhaps the decision-makers are more open to a solution focused therapy now.

There are good arguments to counter the objection that the evacuation of a big island would be impractical for organisational and humanitarian reasons: Large groups of people have been successfully re-settled in regions where there are large artificial barrier lakes now; many of them were happy to begin a new life. In this sense, the Greeks are remunerated in a princely manner. And the basic right to asylum remains, but the refugees are accommodated in the guest house instead of in the living room. Thus, the credibility of the European social model is preserved in the long run.***

There is, however, a strange phenomenon: even politicians and journalists, who advocate a merciless austerity and/or the distribution of the refugees to all EU countries, are voicing big concerns over the evacuation of an island. “We cannot demand that from the poor Greeks,” they say. And although they must know that Europe, in the long run, has no other choice but to restrict immigration, they wouldn’t expect the refugees to live on an island.
Beware of a Culture of Hypocrisy!

Could a crush of immigrants happen there again? 
The Balkan migration route is not closed. The return of migrants to Turkey is proceeding only very slowly. And the situation on the Aegean islands could become much more dramatic if the Refugee deal is off, or if wider conflagrations in Turkey break out - or even more hostilities in the Middle East. Sooner or later, somebody could give the command to evacuate one of the islands in order to place immigrants - by force . . .
Do we want that?

13 March 2017: Balkan migration route is ‘not closed’ 
11 February 2018: Only 16 pct of asylum seekers can be sent back to Turkey

17 April: Greek court rules migrants must no longer be detained on Aegean islands in 'big worry' for EU 
The prospect of quickly reaching the European mainland could again entice more people to cross the sea to Greece . . .

Refugee routes: Google

9. On the Western and Central Mediterranean routes, the geosphere does not offer adequate opportunities, but there is another solution: African countries receive more economic aid if they readmit their own nationals and prevent new migration. UN camps for war refugees and climate refugees are set up south of the Sahara. Libya is controlled by peacekeeping forces of the United Nations and of the African Union. (Easier said than done.) The EU’s naval mission extends its area of operation in order to save as many lives as possible. And the persons rescued are returned to EU Safe Areas in North Africa where only recognised refugees are granted the right of residence.

There is no human right to settle in the European Union! That’s the message to the world. And once it is understood that the recue in the Mediterranean does not include a ticket to Europe, the dying in the sea will come to an end. (Smart people have been preaching this for years.)

In March 2016, Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano has already warned that the refugee system is at risk to collapse: “Without returns, either you organise real prisons, or it’s obvious that the system will collapse. It doesn’t take a prophet to glimpse the future.” 

3 February 2017: Malta Declaration by the European Council 
28 August: Europe-Africa summit yields new approach to asylum claims

Partnerships in the areas of migration with African states can contain irregular migration. But: agreements with autocratic racketeers are difficult on both a practical and legal level. And the alliance with Libyan coast guards, who are trained and paid by the EU since autum 2016, is contrary to international law. They are empowered to do what European crews, under international law, are not allowed to do: they can return the people from international waters to Libya where they may be at risk of mistreatment and abuse . . . 

September: UNHCR aims to open Libyan transit centre early next year:

The fight against the causes of flight will take several generations: 
1. Africas political elites should be forced to further the common welfare . . .

10The EU should contribute much more to the sustainable pacification and development of the Western Balkan countries. There are already retreat areas for Salafists . . . . A multi-billion-euro stimulus plan can offer positive and improved living standards for many people. And in the medium term, this also includes the EU integration of these countries.
In order to combat misuse, legal reform of people’s right to freedom of movement in the EU (free movement of workers and freedom of establishment) will prove inevitable anyway. Those who are insisting on the current regulations are stimulating nationalism and right-wing extremism across the Union. 'Business as usual' is no longer an option, in the wake of the Brexit vote.

11. Will the Schengen area be maintained?
The abolition of border controls between the Member States implicates the commitment to secure the external borders against illegal immigration. Yet, the serious shortcomings in control on external borders have caused a serious threat to public policy and internal security in the Schengen area.

Consistent controls of the internal borders would first and foremost negatively affect the economies whose logistics are based on free border traffic. But all EU citizens have the right to protection from foreign infiltration. And all want security. The state of emergency (like in France after the attacks in Paris) could become the rule. Schengen could break apart because of the flow of immigrants and the threat of terrorism. 

If the EU does not act, it will abolish itself. The British already decided to leave the Union - from now on, it’s only about containing the damage. A simple majority (51,89 %) was allowed to make a decision of such magnitude. The Brits are crazy! And our EU politicians let it happen. (The EU Treaty provides no qualified majority for a vote on the withdrawal from the European Union.)

A reform of the Dublin System is inevitable: The Member States set up the appropriate infrastructure for systematic controls of the internal borders, and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) secures the external borders even without the approval of the local governments.

Asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first EU country they entered. Those who want to apply for asylum in another country do not receive permission to travel (exceptions are based on family law). Those who are not in possession of valid documents must stay at camps in the border region until their identity is clarified. Economic migrants who are undoubtedly recognized as such have no more right to file an action.

Hence the first receiving countries are under the obligation again, but the other countries should provide them much more logistical and financial support. And protection seekers, who made it across the internal frontiers, should be returned not until it is provided that they find a dignified reception. Unaccompanied minors should probably not be returned at all. Exceptions based on family law should be carefully monitored . . . 

Really well-integrated immigrants who, until now, are merely tolerated, should more easily get a secure residence status.

But all Member States must commit themselves to the deportations of unwelcome guests. This can be very complicated, even with criminals and radicals, as there are many real and fake obstacles. Numerous migrants with no right of residence are a threat to public order an internal security. They must be deported – voluntarily if possible and forcibly if necessary. Thus, the EU Commission is under the obligation to accelerate negotiations on EU readmission agreements. And a new Return Office will have to coordinate the deportations.

This won’t work without changes of the legal basis and without firm political will. Enforcement measures against unwanted migrants will be inevitable. Many will put up resistance, and some will become radicalised. And there will be bad press and harsh objections and vociferous protests . . .

First immediate measure: Information campaign for return programmes. 
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) provides migrants and refugees with support in the countries of origin. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is in charge of the implementation, but every EU country could contribute more by making more attractive offers to all immigrants. Return programmes in combnation with reintegration measures avoid forced deportations and stimulate the development of the regions of origin! 

Last wake-up call for Europe: The parliamentary elections in Italy (4 March 2018). 
Vigorous political reforms should be put on the agenda. In any case, the EU Commission must negotiate the readmission agreements with the countries of origin and coordinate the deportations of the many illegal immigrants. Italy cannot arrange this on a bilateral basis. And the Italians want to see actions!

And of course, misunderstandings must be avoided. The reform of the Dublin System should not lead to a further re-nationalisation (and weakening of our competitiveness) but to a strong and effective European Union. The Member States should stand together and fly the flag. “Fortress Europe” is a title of honour!

As soon as the refugees found shelter in the Aegean and in North Africa and the external borders are secured, the Schengen convention can be restored. Then only non-routine controls of the internal borders and random checks at the traffic routes are required.

12. The Islamic State (IS or ISIS) is an apocalyptic cult. (Barack Obama) 
It is now militarily defeated in Syria and Iraq, but it has already formed colonies and built a Digital Caliphate. The unholy warriors will continue to spread terror - sooner or later also with chemical, radiological and biological warfare. 

The expansion of public surveillance measures and a better coordination of the European security services is needed. The misuse of data, however, will not always be prevented, even with independent supervision. And the trade with fear will bear evil fruits . . . 

We should make our choice for a reasonable solution in good time!

Short and sweet: The external borders are secured. The Dublin System is reformed. A big Aegean island is evacuated to house refugees. The Greeks get a multi-billion-euro stimulus package. Peace and development is promoted in the Western Balkan countries. EU Safe Areas are established in North Africa. Unwanted migrants are deported to the countries of origin.

This concept is only logical: If we are not willing to take in so many people, we must either mercilessly reject them or offer them decent alternatives.

It wants to be discussed, improved, submitted to voting and put into practice.
We do know that everything is easier said than done . . .

* This is often presented as being without any alternative. But a statesman (like Helmut Schmidt) wouldnt have let the immigrants across the borders without identity checks. He would have asked: “What is needed – portable toilets, tents, catering . . .?” 
How? He would have kept an eye on the development in the Middle East and in the Balkans. He would have been prepared. The crisis was already there! 
All responsible politicians have failed.

** Just imagine Turkey becomes EU member: the EU’s external frontier would extend all the way to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and the so-called Islamic State (that is militarily defeated since December 2017). The very thought of it is enough to boost all xenophobic powers across Europe. And in case the British need a reason to vote “out of the EU” . . . (The people have spoken.)
It was an unnecessary mistake to offer Turkey the prospect of membership. Some politicians will still pay greater lip service, and the Turks will make pressure for visa liberalisation. But if it turns out that they demand more than the EU citizens have on offer, there will be trouble . . .

*** Contrary to an event on the scale of a large volcanic eruption, where an island has to be evacuated as fast as possible, this is a matter of well thought out and organised arrangements.  
The basic questions are maybe more problematic: How do we achieve success in the negotiations with the Greek government? How do we get the EU to suspend the austerity policy and establish new contracts? Will one island provide enough space in the long run?
There are also some smaller islands that are privately owned and uninhabited, but we need a long-term solution. Refugees dont want to reside on small islands. And our Greek friends need a sustainable stimulus package anyway. However, the situation is very complicated: The creditors permanently pour money into a bottomless pit - and collect their interests from the Greeks . . .

More honesty is required from politicians and journalists: It is your duty to discuss these problems openly and honestly . . .

P.S. I really created this concept by myself. Theres already talk about global migration flows in The Limits to Growth (1972) of the Club of Rome.... Australias Pacific Solution (2001) didnt appear to be sustainable in the long run. Not until 2011, when the Arab Spring more and more turned into a nightmare, I figured that an Aegean island could become a safe haven for refugees. In the meantime, I learned about two similar concepts: The Refugee Nation of the Californian real estate investor Jason Buzi and The Aylan Island of the Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris. Both are not yet put into practice. And I think that I have to impose myself although the matter is much too big to take responsibility for. If you click onto the links at the top, you will see and hear than I actually have other priorities: High Culture . . .  


28 January 2016: Refugee/Migrant crisis in Europe: situation analysis

4 February: London: World leaders pledge billions in aid for Syrians: 

24 February: Interior ministers and foreign ministers from Austria and the Balkans region meet in Vienna

25 February: Greece recalls its ambassador to Austria

7/8 March: EU-Turkey summit in Brussels

9 March: Balkan countries shut borders for refugees

17/18 March: EU-Turkey summit in Brussels: agreement

30 March: Geneva conference on Syrian refugees

7 April: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatens to pull out of the migrant deal if the EU falls short on his demands by June 

12 April: Austria starts building migrant controls at Italian border

18/19 April: Foreign Affairs Council - main results 

19 April: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to EU: No visa liberalisation for Turks, no refugee deal.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to Turkey: No concessions on visas for Turkey before it delivers.

4 May: European Commission opens way for decision by June on visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey

Questions & Answers:

European Commission accused of blackmail after introducing fines for countries refusing refugees

6 May: President Erdoğan to EU: Were going our way, you go yours.

10 May: EU Parliament suspends work on Turkey visa liberalisation 

16/17 May: Major powers fail to agree new date for Syria peace talks

20 May: Turkish parliament votes to lift MPs immunity 

21 May: Turkey refuses EU travel to highly skilled Syrian refugees

23/24 May: Old habits die hard at World Humanitarian Summit

24 May: Turkey threatens to block EU migration deal without visa-free travel

Idomeni: Greek riot police move into clear refugee camp

26 May: EU asks for G7s help on refugees

Hungarian police clash with refugees on Serb border

29 May: More than 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean this week

2 June: Turkey recalls Germany ambassador after genocide vote

4 June: Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says migrants should be kept on islands, following Australian example

5 June: Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj to EU: Do not send refugees back.

7 June: Carrot and stick: EU refugee policy in Afrika

8 June: European parliament condemns Turkey for lifting MPs immunity, but only a few voices are urging a tough response 

9 June: Germanys speaker of parliament sharply criticized Turkish president

11 June: After threats, security concerns for German MPs with Turkish roots 

14 June: German EU ambassador to Turkey resigns

17 June: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) rejects EU funding in protest at refugee deal

18 June: UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges international support for Greece over refugees 

20 June: World Refugee Day: More than 65 million refugees worldwide 

22 June: EU Commission: European Border and Coast Guard agreed At last!

23 June: Erdoğan may call Brexit-style referendum on Turkey’s EU bid

23/24 June: Brexit: UK votes to leave EU What a pity! 

How did UK end up voting to leave the European Union?

26 June: As three million people sign a petition for a second EU referendum we ask - could it actually happen?

28/29 June: View from Brussels: all friends together - or perhaps not

2 July: Brexit live: thousands 'march for Europe' in post-referendum protest 

11 July: Theresa May says Brexit means Brexit and . . .

14 July: Theresa Mays cabinet: Whos in and whos out?

15/16 July: Timeline: Turkeys attempted coup

16 July: Turkey: more than 2,700 judges removed from duty

18 July: Turkey coup attempt: Police and officials purged

19 July: Turkish post-coup purges sweep through education as thousands of teachers lose their jobs

20 July: Foreign Affairs Council - main results:

Erdoğan declares three-month state of emergency in Turkey

21 July: Visegrad Group calls for EU reforms in wake of Brexit vote

40-nation summit plans next moves against Islamic State 

21/23 July: International Mayors Conference in Athens No Plan B.

23 July: Erdoğan closes thausands of private schools, charities and other institutions 

25 July: Turkey detains 42 journalists in crackdown as Europe sounds alarm 

27 July: Turkey closes scores of TV stations, newspapers

28 July: Bavaria: German state hit by attacks presents anti-terror concept 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel thinks we still can do 

Turkey demands extradition of Gulen followers in Germany

31 July: Germany: Pro-Erdoğan demonstration in Cologne 

Turkish FM: If theres no visa-free travel, no migrant deal. 

1 August: EU wont budge on Turkey visa demands 

3 August: Greece asks for EU-Turkey migration deal 'Plan B'

4 August: Austrian chancellor suggests ending EU accession talks with Turkey 

Turkish minister says Austrian chancellors comment on EU talks close to far right 

Greece says it never asked for a 'Plan B' in EU-Turkey refugee deal 

5 August: Report shows rise in Turkish asylum-seekers in Germany 

6 August: Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz calls EU-Turkey refugee deal a faltering house of cards

7 August: Most Germans want to end EU migrant deal with Turkey

Millions gather in Istanbul for raucous democracy rally 

9 August: Putin mends broken relations with Turkeys Erdoğan

10 August: Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question 

16 August: German govt: Turkey supports terror groups in Middle East 

17 August: Turkey lashes out at Germany over allegations it has become Islamist hub 

Germany tries to downplay Turkey 'Islamization' report

18 August: German minister says nothing to regret about report alleging Turkey a hub for Islamists 

19 August: German interior ministers call for partial burqa ban 

Turkey: our goal is to join the EU by 2023

Jean-Claude Juncker says Turkey not ready for EU membership 

Pressure mounts on Greek refugee camps as more migrants come across the Aegean Sea

21 August: Switzerland could become a new transit country for refugees 

23 August: Turkey recalls ambassador from Austria

25 August: Czech Republik rejects Merkels push for refugee quoatas 

26 August: Poland: Orbán slams EUs reaction to crises during Visegrad group meeting with Merkel 

30 August: Thausands of migrants rescued off Lybia 

Migrant arrivals in Greece from Turkey spike again

Germany: Thousands of refugees exploited as illegal workers 

1 September: Top EU officials visited Turkey to mend relations

3 September: Turkey, EU discuss fragile relations at ministerial meeting

4 September: German interior minster floats idea of returning migrants to Greece 

5 September: EU migrants crisis: Lorry protests causes Calais disruption

7 September: UNICEF report: Nearly 50 million children are refugees or migrants

8 September: Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer - a  lost cause

9 September: EU finance ministers urge Greece to speed up reforms

Southern European leaders call for action to boost flaggig EU growth 

10 September: The refugees stuck in Greeces holiday resorts

11 September: Greece demands reperations from Germany for damages during the Second world war 

14 September: Jean-Claude Junker: EU faced with an existential crisis 

16 September: Horst Seehofer: We want a solution to the Immigration Problem

EU summit: dark clouds over Bratislava 

17 September: Italian PM Matteo Renzi slams EU summits conclusions on growth and immigration 

19 September: UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants 

German Development Minister Gerd Müller calls for a UN refugee fund 

Angela Merkel admits mistakes over asylum seekers after disastrous election 

Thousands of migrants flee burning Greek camp of Moria on Lesbos 

20 September: Obama delivers his final speech to the UN 

UN chief Ban Ki-moon rails against leaders with 'bloody hands' in Syria 

22 September: Over 500,000 rejected asylum seekers still live in Germany

Amnesty International urges EU not to close borders to refugees 

24 September: Migration Summit in Vienna: Is it time for a new agenda? 

28 September: EU-Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration 

2 October: Hungarys refugee referendum not valid after voters stay away 

5 October: EU Afghanistan conference aims to renew aid 

More than 10,000 refugees rescued in zwo days in Mediterranean 

6 October: EU bolsters border agency to stem migrant flow 

11 October: Merkel in Africa - stemming the migrant flow 

28 October: Thousands of refugees hide from French police as Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp is demolished 

3 November: Turkey threatens to cancel EU migration deal 

4 November: Turkey arrests pro-Kurdish party leaders amid claims of internet shutdown 

6 November: German ministry wants migrants returned to Africa 

8/9 November: Presidential Election Live: Donald Trumps Victory 

10 November: German foreign minister to visit Turkey despite criticism of Ankara 

14 November: EU criticises Turkey but not ready to halt membership talks 

15 November: Obama praises Greece, raps EU austerity on final foreign trip 

Germanys foreign minister Steinmeier: Turkeys relations with EU in sorry state 

18 November: European leaders hold final meeting with Obama in Berlin 

20 November: Fed up with EU, Erdoğan says Turkey could join Shanghai bloc 

24 November: EU parliament urges ministers to freeze Turkey accession talks 

25 November: Erdoğan threatens to open Turkeys borders to Europe 

Bulgaria to send rioting migrants to closed camps, plans extraditions 

Migrants torch Lesbos camp after two die

8 December: EU Commission: Asylum seekers in Europe will be sent back to Greece starting March 2017 

13 December: EU statement: No new chapters on Turkey membership talks 

14 December: Mass deportation of rejected Afghan asylum seekers from Germany imminent 

15 December: Migration, Turkey, Syria war and Brexit dominate EU summit 

16 December: Merkel stands by Greece as Tsipras faces German fiscal critics 

21 December: Berlin Christmas market attack blame game begins 

23 December: Berlin attack suspect shot dead by police in Milan 

3 January 2017: Migrant crisis will tear EU apart and could destroy it in 2017, says German politician Edmund Stoiber: 

6 January: Allies Chalenge Merkel on Security 

10 January: Greece: severe weather places refugees at risk and government under fire

18 January: Germanys 'Marshall Plan' for Africa unveiled 

20 January: Donald Trump’s inauguration 

21 January: Turkish parliament approves presidential system 

26 January: Germanys interior minister De Maizière calls for refugees to be held in a "safe place" outside of Europe 

27 January: President Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries

40 Turkish NATO officers seeking asylum in Germany 

29 January: Federal Judges in Brooklyn Block Parts of Trumps Order on Muslim Immigrantion 

Protests against Trumps immigration plan rolling in more than 30 cities 

2 February: Donald Trump slams 'dumb' refugee deal with Australia after 'worst' phone call 

Merkel and Erdoğan hold tense meeting in Turkish capital 

Erdoğan tells off Merkel for using phrase 'Islamist terrorism' 

3 February: Kellyanne Conway blames refugees for 'Bowling Green massacre' that never happene 

Malta Declaration by the European Council 

4 February: Federal judge blocks Donald Trumps immigration ban 

Justice Department to challenge judges halt of travel ban 

6 February: Apple, Google, Uber Join Fight Against Trump Travel Ban 

7 February: EU faces crisis as IMF warns Greek debts are on ‘explosive’ path 

9 February: Trump loses court battle to reinstate immigration ban 

17 February: Hundreds of migrants cross Spanish border, clash with police 

German journalist Deniz Yücel taken into custody in Turkey

20 February: Munich security conference focused on Middle East 

Hundreds of migrants cross fence into Spain again 

22 February: Germany passes faster migrant deportation 

Amnesty International Report 2016/17 

27 February: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani calls for EU to open refugee reception centers in Libya 

1 March: Turkey "on the road to autocracy," Venice Commission watchdog says 

European Commission presents White Paper on the future of Europe 

2 March: Brussels tells EU states to detain more freely migrants awaiting deportation 

3 March: Merkel visits Egypt and Tunisia to talk about migration 

Turkish foreign minister accuses Germany of double standards 

4 March: One year after Balkan route closed, region is stuck in crisis mode 

6 March: Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels 

7 March: European Court of Justice rules against 'humanitarian' visas for refugees 

Hungarian parliament approves law allowing all asylum seekers to be detained 

8 March: Germany’s Islamist Terrorism Hotline Is Blowing Up With Calls 

9 March: Merkels EU speech couldnt help but highlight the power of nationalism 

10 March: EU summit: Brexit casts a long shadow over Europe bbc.dom 

German constitutional rights don’t apply to Turkish politicians: Court

German Bundesrat says Maghreb states not safe for refugees

Putin and Erdoğan hold a joint press conference after meeting in Moscow 

UN report details massive human rights violations against Kurds in Turkey 

11 March: UN: World facing greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945

Erdoğan calls Dutch government 'Nazis' after Turkish foreign ministers plane prevented from landing in Netherlands 

12 March: Rotterdam: Clashes as Dutch expel minister 

13 March: Tensions rising between Turkish, European leaders before elections 

Merkel Says the Netherlands Has Her 'Full Support and Solidarity' 

Turkey threatens to 'reconsider' EU migrant deal 

Balkan migration route is ‘not closed’ 

14 March: EU Court rules: Ban on Head Scarves at Work Is Legal 

Turkey targets Dutch with diplomatic sanctions as 'Nazi' row escalates 

15. March: Migration Deal Teeters On Edge Amid Crisis With Europe 

Trump slams federal judges freeze on second travel ban 

16 March: Turkish minister Cavusoglu claims "holy wars will soon begin in Europe" 

17 March: Erdogan accuses EU of 'crusade' against Islam

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu: Lets send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe to "blow its mind" 

18 March: EU-Turkey migration deal looks wobbly a year later 

19 March: Turkey summons German envoy over Kurdish rally in Frankfurt 

Erdoğan accuses Merkel of using ‘Nazi measures’ 

20 March: Merkel says Germany could ban Turkish campaign events 

Mediterranean interior ministers meet to discuss migration flows 

21 March: No more Turkish rallies in Germany before referendum - organisers 

22. March: Washington: Meeting of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State 

23 March: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzia: "Greece won’t take back refugees from northern Europe" 

24 March: 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome 

25 March: Cracks on show at EU 'unity' summit in Rome 

Brexit protests: tousands march in London to 'unite for Europe' 

28 March: Turkey 'spied' on pro-Gulen opponents in Germany 

Hungary opens shipping container camp for refugees 

EU commissioner calls on Hungary to comply with asylum rules 

29 March: Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU What a pity!! 

31 March: EU sets out 'phased' Brexit strategy 

Rex Tillerson renews demand on NATO spending at Brussels meeting 

5 April: Brussels: International donors pledge $6 billion in Syria aid 

11 April: G-7 ministers appeal to Russia on Syria but reject sanctions 

16 April: Turkey referendum: Erdoğan wins vote amid dispute over ballots – as it happened

17 April: German MP Norbert Röttgen calls for end of EU talks with Turkey 

Five thousand immigrants rescued from Mediterranean in Easter surge 

20 April: Protests against referendum result continue in Istanbul 

28 April: France, Germany want new Turkey ties but dodge EU membership 

29 April: EU leaders agree on tough stance at special Brexit summit 

2 May: Erdoğan warns Turkey could 'say goodbye' to EU 

7 May: French election results: Emmanuel Macron wins by landslide 

16 May: EU executive to decide on migration penalties in June 

Turkey says Germany must choose between Ankara and alleged coup plotters 

19 May: Clashes in Athens & Thessaloniki as parliament votes for austerity enoughisenough

20 May: US and Saudi Arabia sign arms deals worth almost $110bn 

23 May: No bailout funds for Greece as eurozone finance chiefs fail to agree deal 

25 May: Donald Trump tells Nato allies to pay up at Brussels talks

27 May: Disharmony at G7 as Trump plays his own tune 

1 June: Trump on Paris climate accord: 'We're getting out' 

5 June: Germany set to quit Turkey's Incirlik airbase amid row

13 June: EU to open case against Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic over migration

16 June: Reality Check: Have the Greek bailouts worked? 

18 June: France: parliamentary elections 

20 June: World Refugee Day: What you should know 

28 June: Italy considers closing its ports to boats carrying migrants 

4 July: Austria ready to deploy army at Italy border 

EU Commission proposes Action Plan to support Italy 

5 July: Italy's furious response forces Austria to back-pedal after Vienna sends tanks to border 

6 July: EU parliament calls for Turkey accession talks to be suspended 

EU ministers hint they may start turning migrant boats back to Africa 

7 July: A Long March for Justice in Turkey 

G20: Live updates 

8 July: President Erdoğan's Press Statement Following G20 Summit 2017

9 July: Iraqi Prime Minister Arrives in Mosul to Declare Victory Over ISIS 
U.S.-Russian ceasefire deal holding in southwest Syria 

12 July: Western Balkans summit: EU must keep door open to Balkan members 

17 July: EU foreign ministers meeting: Extend mandate for naval operation off Libya 

20 July: Germans warned over holiday travel to Turkey as row with Erdoğan escalates 

25 July: EU to Turkey: respect for rights 'imperative' to join bloc 

EU extended the naval mission "Sophia" until the end of 2018 

Libyan rival leaders agree to ceasefire after Macron-hosted talk

26 July: European Court of Justice: EU refugee quotas 'proportionate' 

European Court of Justice rejects 'open-door' policy and upholds right of member states to deport refugees 

27 July: France's Macron eyes special centres in Libya to handle asylum requests 

2 August: Italian parliament gives green light to Libya naval mission 

Italy impounds German NGO migrant rescue ship 

7 August: Libyan coastguard recovered 1,124 migrants and returned them to the Libyan coast

Dozens of migrants run across border in Spanish enclave of Ceuta 

11 August: Merkel calls for greater effort to address migration causes 

13 August: Major NGOs halt refugee rescue operations off Libyan coast 

16 August: Spain rescues 600 people in busiest day 

28 August: Europe-Africa summit yields new approach to asylum claims 

31 August: Orbán asks Juncker for EUR 400 million to pay for border fence 

6 September: Hungary and Slovakia Lose Fight Over E.U. Migrant Quotas

7 September: EU divided over calls to block Turkey’s bid 

17 September: Turkey summons German ambassador to Ankara over Kurdish rally in Cologne 

19 September: UN Assembly: Turkey calls on world to fulfil aid pledges for hosting Syrian refugees 

24 September: German elections 

26 September: French President Macrons speech on the EU 

27 September: EU Commission proposes resettling 50,000 refugees 

30 September: EU summit: leaders promise action after brainstorming

1 October: Erdoğan: "Turkey no longer needs EU membership but won't quit talks."

16 October: Austria set to elect youngest EU leader in move to the right 

20 October: EU leaders want to 'responsibly' cut Turkey pre-accession aid: Merkel 

7 November: Fighting to reach loved ones in Germany: One week of refugees’ hunger strike in Athens 

20 November: Greek island on strike in protest against becoming migrant 'prison' 

23 November: Manus Island: PNG police move refugees from former Australia centre 

30 November: EU-Africa summit leaders back migrant evacuation from Libya 

14/15 December: Eu-summit: Bitter divisions over migration threaten show of unity 

20 December: 15 injured and tents burned down when clashes break out in Moria camp

15 January 2018: Almost half of rejected asylum seekers in Germany winning on appeal 

20 January: Turkey bombs Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria 

28 January: Refugee rights drive wedge between German coalition parties 

11 February: Only 16 pct of asylum seekers can be sent back to Turkey 

23 February: EU summit: Merkel Upsets Just About Everyone With Her EU Refugee Plan 

EU to double funding for Sahel forces

4 March: Italy election: What does the result mean?

  18 March: Russia election: Vladimir Putin wins by big margin

23 March: Germanys new interior minister Seehofer lays down 'zero tolerance' policy 

26 March: EU says summit with Turkey provides no answers to concerns 

4 April: Ankara summit: Turkey, Russia and Iran urge 'lasting ceasefire' in Syria

8 April: Hungary: Viktor Orban re-elected for third term

13 April: From Legal EU Resident to Outlaw in Turkey: More Syrians Flee Germany 

17 April: EU Commission: Turkey taking 'huge strides' away from European Union 

Greek court rules migrants must no longer be detained on Aegean islands in 'big worry' for EU

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