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A Review on The Role of the EU Conditionality in Development and Transformation of Migration and Asylum Policies of Turkey

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A Review on The Role of the EU Conditionality in Development and Transformation of Migration and Asylum Policies of Turkey
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  The Role of the EU Conditionality in Development and Transformation of Migration andAsylum Policies of Turkey The European Union (EU) holds a central role in the process of reformation in any areaof policy making in the candidates countries for membership through imposing conditionalityand acquis communautaire upon them. Declaration of the candidacy of Turkey to the EUmembership in the Helsinki Summit of 1999 brings new concerns on policies and practices of Turkey. Reforms and new legislation, including changes in the asylum policies, that Turkey hasaccomplished so far, can be put in the framework of the EU harmonization process. This paper will attempt to address the transformation of policies and practices in Turkey in the area of immigration and asylum by providing a comparison between first and most recent AccessionPartnership Documents of 2001(2001/235/EC) and 2008(2008/157/EC). In this context, it can be claimed that there has been significant degree of transformation in the national policies and practices of management of migration and asylum, as well as state institutions, with regard tothe process of European integration since 2002. However, the literature suggests that there arealso critical arguments in Turkey concerning reforms made for harmonization, whichdemonstrates a certain distance between Turkey and Europe.The first Accession Partnership Document, which is the Council Decision of 8 March2001 (2001/235/EC), has short-term and medium-term objectives to be concluded as prioritiesas in the membership process. In the context of migration and asylum, short-term objectives onthe chapter of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) implies need for a program to align legislationand practices in Turkey to those in the EU in the field of JHA. It promotes enhancing the fightagainst organized crime, drugs trafficking and corruption and strengthening capacities to dealwith money laundering. Also, under the chapter of Reinforcement of Administrative andJudicial Capacity, it emphasizes improvement of the capacity of public administration to adopt,to implement and to manage the acquis in the development of effective border control to prevent illegal immigration and illegal trafficking in human beings and drugs. Medium-termobjectives of the Council Decision, thus, involve supporting articles on the JHA by envisioningthe adoption of the EU acquis in the field of data protection, the alignment of visa legislationand practice with those of the EU for full implementation of the Schengen Convention, andadoption and implementation of the EU acquis and practices on migration (admission,readmission, expulsion) so as to prevent illegal migrations. It is arguable that the first AccessionPartnership Document does not include detailed objectives on the field of JHA, as well asmigration and asylum.  On the other hand, the Council Decision of 18 February 2008 (2008/157/EC) has moredetailed short-term objectives on the chapter on justice, freedom and security. While it ensuresthe continuation of strengthening of all law enforcement institutions and alignment their statuswith European standards, as well as envisions the establishment of an asylum authority in linewith the acquis, it also emphasizes the importance of the National Action Plan (NAP) onAsylum and Migration, which is adopted by Turkey in 2005, to increase capacity to combatillegal migration and integrate border management strategy. It also calls for an urgent need of readmission agreement with the EU. The Chapter 24 of the medium-term objectives calls for further acceleration of efforts to set up an integrated border management system in line with theacquis, based on close interagency coordination and professionalism of staff.It is important to note that in both Council Decisions, the medium-term objectivesemphasized the necessity of lifting of the geographical limitation to the Geneva Convention of 1951, which is central to the asylum regimes in Turkey. As it is discussed in the literature, theissue of geographical limitation is very sensitive to Turkish authorities due to highly politicalcharacter of immigration and asylum, which is even more politicized within the EU framework İçduygu divides policies and practices into 2 categories: immigration-related andasylum-related (İçduygu, 2007: 206). The former includes the Law on Settlement of 1934,which determines the main rules of immigration and asylum into Turkey, whereas the latter adds the Geneva Convention f 1951 on the Status of Refugees to the former. As Tolay pointsout, Turkish immigration policy are articulated on the immigration of migrants of Turkishculture or srcin, and their rights on Turkish territory. Thus, a large majority of newcomersfrom Eastern Europe and Middle East are foreigners, and cannot be accepted in Turkey under the Law on Settlement of 1934 (Tolay, 2012: 42).Introduction of a geographical limitation to the Convention on the application of legalobligations only to the persons who were fleeing persecution in Europe as a result of events prior to 1951 is in fact a failed attempt to prevent mass influx of politically or economicallydeprived people coming from poor and unstable countries of Asia, Africa and Middle East dueto security concerns (İçduygu, 2007: 208). It is observable that the limitation cannot precludethe increasing number of asylum-seekers or legal and illegal migrants from these regions.Turkey has agreed to lift the geographical limitation parallel to the NAP andmembership to the EU, and grounded its claim to the foreseen physical and economicconditions. In this context, Turkey anticipates to lift the limitation if changes in the regulations  to prevent encouraging direct influx of mass migration to Turkey are made before the accessionand if the EU member states demonstrate necessary responsibility and sensitivity in the issue of  burden-sharing (Özer, 2011: 80)Although it is envisioned in the Accession Partnership Documents and the NAP, Turkeyhas not advanced its policies on lifting the geographical limitation. It is important to note thatTurkey is also bounded by the principle of non-refoulement, which prevents Turkey fromrejecting applications of those asylum seekers from any country without conducting aninvestigation on the basis of the 1951 Convention (Acer et al, 2011: 53) . The only reformmade on this issue is the Asylum Regulation of 1994, which is a compromise solution bygranting rights to non-European refugees to apply for asylum in Turkey with the condition thatonce recognized with the refugee status, they would have to be resettled in a third country(Tolay, 2012: 43).Tolay identifies 3 major steps taken after the Accession Partnership of 2001 (Tolay,2012: 43). Firstly, development of the NAP in 2005 as an effort to identify areas of fit andmisfit between the acquis and Turkish regulations in order to evaluate necessary reforms iscentral to more comprehensive approach to immigration policy. Also, the period of 2005-2008reserves very crucial policy outcomes for migration. Revision of the Law on Settlement in2006, adoption of new Passport Law of 2007, and the amendment of the Land Registry Law in2008 are vital changes for better implementation of the asylum system and easier access to property for foreigners. Lastly, a task force is established in 2008 to launch morecomprehensive reforms in line with the NAP, which aims to constitute a new legislation onasylum and foreigners in Turkey (Tolay, 2012: 45). These steps are critical in demonstrating thechange in approach and mindset of Turkish bureaucracy, as well as degree of Europeanizationin Turkey.The humanitarian aspect of asylum and migration is one of the central concerns of theEU. Tampere Program of 1999 and Dublin Regulations of 2000 puts asylum and migration intothe Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), and emphasizes the necessity of cooperationin responding humanitarian needs resulting from Geneva Convention of 1951 and other international human rights agreements. Inevitably, reforms and new legislations done by Turkeyis to adopt this approach of the EU to the issue of asylum and migration (Acer et al, 2011).Harmonization of the common asylum policies with the EU standards should be the principalinitiative, instead of being the ultimate goal for Turkish authorities.  It is arguable that Europeanization creates a challenge to existing power groups,coalition blocks and balance of interests by creating supporters and opponents to it. Turkey isno exception. From the very beginning, especially in the field of asylum and migration,Europeanization has brought critical concerns to Turkish social and political life.First critique, which is rather superficial, is the high-level costs of some reforms of thesystem. It is mainly concerned by either conditions accepting migrants or better management of  border controls. It is followed by the fact that there is an imbalance of power between the EUand Turkey in the negotiation process. It lefts no leverage for Turkish authorities on the contentof reforms proposed by the EU. This is also a challenge to the credibility of the EUconditionality, since it puts demands of the EU under question in specific cases. Another critique is that there are contradictory demands by the EU. In this context, it is claimed that theEU both demands being nicer to asylum seekers and tougher on illegal migrants. Yet, the borderline between the two is very hard to draw for the authorities (Tolay, 2012: 52).There are also content-oriented costs concerned with the perceived securitization of theissue of migration in Europe and its unfairness to both migrants and Turkey. Securitization of migration is seen as unfair to migrants, which ignores the humanitarian aspect of the migration,and that kind of policies are seen as inappropriate. In addition, demands of the EU are also seenas unfair to Turkey. There is massive perception that demands of the EU is formulated in a wayto use Turkey as a buffer-zone and dumping ground of migrants in the process of building‘Fortress Europe’ (Tolay, 2012: 54)In conclusion, in the framework of Europeanization of migration and asylum policies, asİçduygu implies, there is no factual transformation taken place to indicate paradigmatic changein the area of immigration and asylum policies and practices (İçduygu, 2007: 216). So, it can beclaimed that many aspects of Europeanization of these policies in Turkey can be characterized by absorption, rather than transformation. However, it is also clear that reforms and legislationsaccomplished so far are inherently determined by the EU conditionality, and it can be observedthat progress in the area of migration and asylum is eminently linked to the future negotiations between the EU and the Turkish authorities. References:  Acer, Yücel; Kaya, İbrahim; Gümüş, Mahir. “Türkiye İçin Yni Bir İltica StratejisiÜzerine Gözlemler” in “İltica, Uluslararası Göç ve Vatansızlık: Kuram, Gözlem ve Politika” (eds. Çelebi, Özçürümez, Türkay), Ankara, 2011.İçduygu, Ahmet. “Eu-ization Matters: Changes in Immigration and Asylum Practices inTurkey”, in “The Europeanization of National Policies and Politics of Immigration” (eds. Faist and Ette), 2007.Özer, Yeşim. “Avrupa Birliği Sürecinde Türk Kamu Yönetimi Açısından İltica Konusu”in “İltica, Uluslararası Göç ve Vatansızlık: Kuram, Gözlem ve Politika” (eds. Çelebi,Özçürümez, Türkay), Ankara, 2011.Tolay, Juliette. “Turkey’s “Critical Europeanization”: Evidence from Turkey’sImmigration Policies” in “Turkey, Migration and the EU: Potentials, Challenges and Opportunities” (eds. Elitok and Straubhaar), 2012.Council Decision on the Principles, Priorities and Conditions Contained in theAccession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey, 18.02.2008. (2008/157/EC)Council Decision on the Principles, Priorities and Conditions Contained in theAccession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey, 08.03.2001. (2001/235/EC)
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