This presentation was given by Zeynep Kivilcim at the Refugee Hosts International Conference and critically investigates the EU-Turkey Deal that establishes a regime where Turkey’s authoritarian, European illiberal and liberal sovereign practices converge and function with harmony against the rights of migrants and refugees.

EU-Turkey Refugee Deal:  “This is (not) a pipe”

by Zeynep Kivilcim, Einstein Foundation Senior Scholar, Humboldt University

The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal was agreed on 18 March 2016 between the European Union Heads of State and the Government of Turkey. The Deal and the way it is implemented are in explicit breach of EU member states’ and Turkey’s obligations under international refugee law and international human rights law. The deal is considered as “a historic blow to rights” and demonstrates that EU member states consider human rights and the rule of law to be dispensable with regards to migrants.

The successful implementation of the Deal is dependent on the non-respect of the rule of law at different levels. The Deal is legally based on the assumption that Turkey, where the rule of law is almost completely overthrown, is a safe country. The EU is pressing for, and achieving, the dismantling of legislative and institutional guarantees for the rule of law in Greek legislation. The denial of the judicial review of the Deal by the Court of Justice of the European Union is another manifestation of the dynamic exclusion of migrants and refugees from the scope of the European rule of law. In some instances of the implementation of the Deal, the capacity of non-respect of migrants’ human rights is openly exhibited as a sovereign performance and appreciated by European citizens.


If you found this piece of interest please visit the recommended reading below:

Al-Mehdi, D. (2019) The Tribulations, and Deportations, of Syrian Guests in Turkey

Greatrick, A. (2018) Sounds from Istiklal, Turkey

Greatrick, A. (2017) Photo Gallery: Istanbul

Loris-Rodionoff, C. (2017) Hope, Resilience and Uncertainty: A day with displacement Syrians in Southern Turkey

Loris-Rodionoff, C. (2017) Loss and Everyday Life on the Syrian-Turkish Border

Ozturk, M. (2019) Municipal-level responses to Syrian refugees in Turkey: The case of Bursa

Rowlands, A.  (2018) Turkey – Crossroads for the Displaced

Steinberg, A. (2019) Sustaining protracted displacements: A brief history of labor policy for Jordan’s refugees.



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