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European Restabilization of the Border Regime. A report from the contested borders in the Aegean region

European Restabilization of the Border Regime. A report from the contested
borders in the Aegean region
Sabine Hess and Gerda Heck, June 2016
After months of massive refugee movements that have breathtakingly struggled their
way towards Northern Europe last year, European Union member states have started
to launch diverse actions and measurements to regain control. A coalition of Eastern
European states led by Austria proclaimed the closing of the Balkan route in March
this year that led to massive national re-bordering activities and the blatant construc-
tion of fences. Additionally, the EU commission together with Germany set up a so
called action plan with Turkey1 and pushed the so-called EU-Turkey Deal via a
statement on 18 March 20162. And indeed, the numbers of those still arriving in
Austria and Germany, daily using the Balkan route for their flight/migration projects,
have decreased drastically compared to the summer months of last year. However,
we all know that the global refugee population is not on the decline, given the old and
new, simmering and open wars, as well as the destruction of nature and it's re-
sources. What the present regional and EU-European professed solutions are doing
and, in particular, what the EU-Turkey Deal is doing, is an externalization of border
controls and thereby an externalization of the pressure on Greece and Turkey.
The deal particularly transforms them into Europes border guards and parking lots
all the while Turkey itself being entangled in a gory civil war in the East! Greece, on
the other side, has been subjected to harsh austerity politics since 2010, accompa-
nied by a heavy social and political crisis, and was not willing and/or able to install an
asylum system consistent with EU standards for at least the past 15 yeas! On the
contrary, both countries have focused on transit as a political strategy of migration
governance up to now.
In the following, we will take a look at the EU-Turkey Deal and its repercussions on
Greece and Turkey, focusing on the effects of the deal on refugees, and present
some preliminary considerations on how to theorize and understand the attempts of
EU-Europe to regain control over the movements of migration. We draw on our re-
cent experiences during a first four-week field study in Chios and Izmir at the end of
April and beginning of May 2016, that we were able to carry out in the context of the
transregional research project on the Restabilization of the Border Regime at the
Institute for Cultural Anthropology in Göttingen (Germany), funded by the Fritz
Thyssen Foundation. The motto of the EUs current restabilization attempts and of
the Northern European states is: out of sight, out of mind. This has worked relatively
well ever since the past 15 years of externalizing border controls as one of the main
maxims of the EU-European border politics even though the movements of migra-
tion have again and again been successful in attracting public attention.
Right now, however, we are confronted across the board with multidimensional
re-bordering efforts by the EU and its bodies as well as by the nation states with
partly different rationalities and directions as concerning the vision of Europe - all in
all with disastrous effects. And it is these effects that we would like to scrutinize with
this contribution. In doing so, we will draw on very recent impressions of our field
study in the Aegean region, for which finding the right words is not an easy task. To
begin with, 'unsettling', seems to be the most appropriate. The pope almost took the
words right out of our mouth when he accusingly asked while receiving the Karlspre-
is: What is going on with you, humanist Europe?3
The basic course in Postcolonial Theory teaches us that the history of this humanist
Europe has always been closely linked to racist and missionizing disciplinary and
eliminatory projects. Nonetheless, different social movements like the workers,
womens or migration movements have been successful in enforcing a certain de-
gree of social state, juridification and suable protection of human dignity during the
past 150 years. This dignity is currently bogging down in the dust of the Greek is-
lands, without anybody severely denouncing this state of affairs despite the manifold
critiques of the deal and its effects as reckless and illegal4 by human rights or-
ganizations, EU parliamentary delegations etc.
The Deal
Two cornerstones of the EU-Turkey Deal can be identified, a deal that is close to
being illegal according to remarks by European politicians (!). To denote the deal as
a state-operated human trafficking project as only recently termed by an Europe-
an initiative of writers and researchers is dead on target, whereas the Syrian refu-
gee has become a commodity in this horse trade. Turkish lawyers have also called it
the gravedigger of the Geneva Convention and the right to an individual asylum
In short, the agreement allows, in the first place, to deport all migrants back to Tur-
key, who arrived on the islands after 20 March 2016 by an asylum fast track proce-
dure, unless they can proove that Turkey is not a safe third country for them. There-
by, only vulnerability criteria count, meaning that there is no inquiry of individual rea-
sons for asylum anymore. The deal is based on a recently revised Greek and Turkish
asylum law and an older readmission agreement between the two countries6, but
lacks of an international agreement. In return, the EU promised to receive one Syrian
from the Turkish camps for every deported Syrian in the so-called 1:1 procedure. So
far, only 802 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to the EU until July 20167,
since many EU-countries refuse to admit them.
Whereas the deal has been declared to be a huge humanitarian solution8, which
would put an end to the smuggling business and provide legal ways to enter the EU,
it primarily is a machinery of systematic disfranchisement. For this purpose, it takes
the arriving refugees on the islands hostage, in order to use their state of being stuck
in limbo as a deterrent. So far, this seems to be the one and only outcome of the deal
that works out the rest, the relocations and the returns from the Greek island to
Turkey (under 500 up to July 2016), are rather very low.9 But nonetheless, the ef-
fects of this accelerated EU externalization politics should not be underestimated and
can be summoned up in the following four points:
1.) a systematic disfranchisement, which prefigures the removal of any kind of suable
international protection;
2.) an extensive fragmentation of the European legal space with absolute arbitrary
law standards for one and the same migrant group, depending on when and where
they are, whether in Turkey, on the Greek islands, on the Greek mainland, in Hunga-
ry, Austria or in Germany; In this respect, the deal produces for Europe the so called
island solution Australia has been administering for a long time. Alison Mountz de-
scribes it in The enforcement archipelago: Detention, haunting, and asylum on is-
lands (2011) as a political strategy to subvert juridical standards.10
3.) an expansion of humanitarian actors, who try to govern and to cushion the hard-
ship, whether parallel to or entirely instead of the state. Regarding migration govern-
ance, these NGOs often work in good collaboration with transnational political actors
as the European Union or Frontex.
4.) a tremendously growing transit economy, from which not only private actors, but
also NGOs and Charity Organizations benefit, for instance in terms of receiving huge
donations; the camp-regime is also part of this ecomony.
The main effect for Turkey is the fact that with the deal the transit is blocked. Accord-
ingly, Turkey is starting to prepare for officially becoming an immigration country for
Syrian refugees, although all our conversation partners told us that they are just
awaiting the failure of the deal. So primarily, we were confronted with an integration
discourse, while only a few groups mainly lawyers and activists were trying to
observe the deportations from Greece and do border monitoring.
Let us start on the Syrian-Turkish border, where about 240.000 Syrians are residing
in a half-closed camp regime. German chancellor Angela Merkel recently praised
them as a model for all of Europe. When talking to Syrians in Gaziantep, they told us
that only those who have no other means enter these camps voluntarily. At the same
time, the Turkish border police has closed the border towards Syria last autumn and
defends the border from time to time, if necessary, by shooting and killing refugees,
as Amnesty International listed in a recently published report.
Behind the border on Syrian soil, Turkey already starts to implement a de facto buffer
zone, in which currently tens of thousand of refugees are stuck only receiving sup-
plies on a very provisional basis by the Turkish IHH (Humanitarian Relief Founda-
tion). Syria has turned into an open jail in the last couple of months, which can only
be left towards Turkey with tremendous exertions and a lot of money, as refugee
women, who have made it only recently, told us. In order to reach Turkey, they had to
overcome several border barriers from the Islamic state and other groups and af-
terwards a last one to Turkey.
Thereby, the hypothesis that the men often leave first and risk the dangerous journey
in order to get their women and children afterwards to join them via fami-
ly-reunification, is in this sense untenable. We met innumerable separated families,
who had already partially made the way towards Germany during the summer of
migration11 via the virtually state-organized transit alongside the Balkan route. Oth-
ers were currently stuck on the Greek islands, among them numberless women with
their children who had been sent ahead12.
But Turkey as well, is described as an open jail by politically active refugees, NGOs,
and lawyers. Until recently, Turkey followed an open door policy towards Syrian
refugees (currently there are around 3 Million Syrian refugees present in Turkey),
who in the country itself, found themselves in a guest status with very limited rights.
This is mainly caused by the UNHCR and Turkish asylum politics. Turkey is a signa-
tory to the 1951 Geneva Convention, but applies a geographical limitation, which
means it only accepts European citizens as convention refugees13. All
non-Europeans have to apply to the UNHCR in order to receive the refugee status,
who carries out Asylum procedures for non-European refugees parallel to the Turkish
state. If granted refugee status, asylum seekers are eligible for resettlement. Many
refugees hope to make use of this resettlement program mainly towards Canada, the
USA, or Scandinavian countries. Unfortunately, in many cases, this procedure en-
dures up to six or even more years. During that period, they are obligated to remain
in one of the thirty so-called satellite cities all over Turkey. According to a lawyer we
met, more than 250.000 recognized refugees are currently waiting in Turkey to be
However, Syrian refugees, as being civil war refugees and having a temporary pro-
tection status in Turkey, are excluded from the UNHCR asylum procedure. In 2013,
UNHCR also suspended asylum applications from Afghans, citing a backlog of cas-
es. Only the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied children or chronically ill ap-
plicants, can become resettled. According to our conversation partners, due to the
tremendous increase of asylum seekers the UNHCR might consider to suspend the
applications of all nationalities and restrict the access to the resettlement to vulner-
able cases.
Since 2014, things have changed with the foundation of an asylum and migration
authority the so-called DGMM, resembling the German BAMF and a new asylum
law. The EU was demanding these two amendments over the last ten years in the
context of the pre-accession talks (see reports by Cavidan Soykan)14. This now
serves as a prerequisite to proclaim Turkey a Safe Third Country or a Safe First
Country of asylum. However, our research shows that the old system is still in effect,
only now with a number of asylum seekers twenty times higher.
Syrian refugees can register for a so-called temporary protection status that is lo-
cated outside of the asylum law.15 This means that through UNHCRs politics, which
refer to vague clauses of the Geneva Convention in case of a mass influx situation,
as well as through the Turkish asylum law, Syrians are bereft of individual asylum. In
combination with the EU-Turkey deal, this means that they are left with Turkey and
an uncertain, temporary and highly precarious status with reduced social rights if
they ever get to take their turn to register at all: the registration department of the po-
lice appears to function like the overcharged social security office in Berlin, providing
only a little amount of officers for the task. In Izmir, a city of three million people with
a Syrian population of about 150,000, there are two officers with a capacity of 100
registrations per day. For this reason, many are not registered at all and find them-
selves outside of any legal entitlement whatsoever, running the risk of being brought
to one of the camps along the Syrian border with every single police check. Along
these lines, the camp system serves as a permanent threat.
The temporary protection status actually encompasses a work permit, minimal health
care, and the possibility of children to access the school system. The emphasis
needs to be placed on actually, since all our interview partners havent seen any
work permit up to today, and according to them, schools have eagerly been finding
excuses not to admit Syrian children, and a translator always needs to accompany
patients when seeing physicians and going to hospitals, since otherwise refugees are
denied access there as well. The consequence is an outrageous precarization and
impoverishment with well-known elements (see Baban/Ilcan/Rygiel 2015)16: high
work exploitation and child labor, with bad to disastrous living conditions and health
care, as well as a first generation of Syrian children without any school education.
The temporary protection status only seems to minimally improve this social condi-
tion. This means that in Turkey as well, NGOs and international charities are shooting
up like mushrooms, distributing food, clothes, medication, and hygienic products. The
AKP government seems to deliberately deploy this political style instead of extending
rights, supported by a well-organized armada of Islamic charities. These religious
relief organizations have a crucial role in AKPs ethnic- and religious-oriented para-
digm of the migration management, which operates through a network of state insti-
tutions, party cadres, municipalities, local NGOs and Syrian organizations.
While the refugees in the country are facing restricted rights, the situation for the
500, predominantly Pakistani, Afghan, Iraqi, as well as African and Syrian refugees
who have been returned back as part of the deal, seems to be serious. Right after
their arrival, they were brought to the removal center in Kırklareli at the Bulgarian
border, where lawyers and the UNHCR were denied access up until recently. After
some first visits, lawyers, as well as the UNHCR, unanimously told us that the situa-
tion there was terrible; minors and whole families confined in small cells, having
yard exercise for only 15 minutes after dinner and being bereft of all communication
devices. The detained had not been able to contact their relatives for 20 days
straight. On top of that, especially the statements of the imprisoned persons about
their return are rather reminiscent of government-run kidnapping (see interview with
one refugee imprisoned at Kirkareli17): all with whom we have been able to speak to
until today stated that at the Greek side they neither were informed about an asylum
application nor their deportation. Rather, they were brought from camp to camp, from
a room to a bus and finally to a ferry without being able to make sense of this pro-
ceeding. Many men reported to us about severe strokes by Greek border guards on
their way from the camp to the bus. Lawyers found massive contusions and bruises.
According to them, families have been walked off in handcuffs and minors were im-
prisoned. One lawyer managed to talk to a young woman who had fled with her fami-
ly from a forced marriage with a Taliban officer and now lives in fear of being deport-
ed as far back as Afghanistan with good reason, since rumors spread that in this
Turkish prison as well, the word asylum seems to be unknown and first chain de-
portations have taken place. On the other hand, nearly all the refugees we have been
able to talk to, during the first weeks after the deal started, were free again and sent
to satellite cities. The situation of supposedly voluntarily returned refugees, of
whom some exist thus far, is completely uncertain. Currently, UNHCR is negotiating
with Turkey and the EU in order to engage in monitoring the return process from
Greece to Turkey. The present absence of this monitoring seems to be one of the
reasons of the very slow deportation process. Then, however, it is to be feared that
the returns will gain momentum with the cordial assistance of the UNHCR, since, as
we have to bear in mind, after the first highly medialized returns from Greece to Tur-
key, they have been stopped on a large scale and only small groups of people are
being taken to Turkey.
Greek islands:
While the situation in Turkey is thus specifically fraught with tension in a social and
domestic political way, the situation of the refugees stuck on the Greek islands due to
the deal is disastrous18 and points to the lies in the EUs first progress report from 20
April 2016. The report paints a rosy picture, stating that great progress had already
been made in juridical as well as infrastructural regards by Greece and Turkey, to
ensure full respect of EU and international law.19 We havent noticed anything
hereof and of the allegedly supporting EU-officials, accept for a big armada of more
than 150 Frontex officers, 100 of them staying on the island just in order to supervise
the returns. The Norwegian Refugee Council as well, a highly professional global
protagonist offering its service of camp and flow management to other NGOs and
the state, stated in our interview: The recent EU report doesnt resonate at all with
what is happening on the ground. The speed is just cruel and painfully out of step
with the capacities of the Greek state. The reception arrangements are shockingly
bad. They dont follow at all international law standards.20
Indeed, what leads to the disastrous situation of the refugees on the islands is first
and foremost the camp regime, whereas the big hotspot Vial with over 1,000 places
has turned into a military-run closed camp overnight due to the deal. All NGOs as
well as the UNHCR have withdrawn from it, criticizing the situation. The two smaller
open camps in the city, up to then providing an endurable infrastructure as transit
camps for a few days, have gained a different function as effect of the deal, now
having to host more and more refugees over the past months. It needs to be re-
membered that boats with refugees keep on going ashore not on a daily basis, but
still consistently do so.
However, regardless of what camp we looked at whether the state- and military-run,
or the two more open ones, more or less run by the city together with the UNHCR
(outsourced to Samaritans Purse): concerning medical care, food, blankets, hygiene,
space etc., we found that the basic supply situation in all three camps were below the
standards that could still be called humane. To add insult to injury, there is a cata-
strophic information situation with rumors spreading within seconds and none of the
many small NGOs nor UNHCR setting about to organize reasonable information poli-
tics in order to un-confuse refugees about the deal and their rights. Lawyers are prac-
tically absent on the whole island. Of all the EASO-officers, whose task actually
should be to shed some light on the situation, none of them were to be seen.
Moreover, we saw all kinds of forms that have been more or less improvised out of
sheer necessity by UNHCR and by which due to the absence of a functioning asy-
lum procedure refugees can claim their will to someday claim asylum. According to
the Norwegians, at the moment of our research beginning of May 2016, only one
asylum case official has been present on the island. These strange slips of paper
have become necessary in order to equip the refugees with any document in order to
protect them from deportation. At the same time, they comprised a catch question:
the refugees were asked whether they wanted to apply for asylum in Greece. Since
many of them had family members in another EU country and thus precisely did not
plan to stay in Greece, they answered no. When they were then asked if they
wanted to return to Turkey, all of them answered no as well. But, according to the
deal, twice a no makes a yes. Many refugees as well as courageous camp manag-
ers told us about further trickeries of the Greek police or the Frontex officers who are
responsible for the first registration and fingerprinting, with names being entered in-
correctly or the date of arrival knowingly manipulated. We were also told that, before
20 March the deadline of the deal the registration had deliberately been carried
out very slowly and then was shut down completely, making sure that refugees had
their turn only two days later.
And with every passing day that we stayed in the camp and talked to refugees, hope
slowly died a bit more while proportionately more despair could be noticed in the
faces of the families, women and children, not knowing how things would continue,
what would happen to them, and how long they would have to bear and organize this
camp life for themselves and their children. Whereas the proper life in Northern Paki-
stan, Iraq or Aleppo, to be seen on pictures on the smartphone, showing houses,
cars and indeed a bit of luxury, seemed to have emerged from a different planet. And
quite some nervous breakdown followed, some claims of children wanting to go
home, not wanting to eat the watery soup anymore, served to them by some NGO on
a daily basis from a car. In a particularly impressive manner, women depicted how
their flight and camp life had changed their bodies concerning the deprivation, noise,
bad food, and hygienic situation particularly demanding situations for women and
children , has weakened and emaciated them and made them look like men re-
duced to bare life in the sense of Giorgio Agamben (1998)21. In opposition to
Agambens assumption however, this is not to say that refugees do not themselves
possess agency, as we will show later in the text. We were very moved by the sheer
tenderness with which women and also men took care of their children, forming
communities of care, and how those who speak English championed as translators
and mediators, trying to canalize the countless NGOs with all their goods to the per-
sons in need. Of course, there was also enviousness and a lot of quarrelling.
Especially the distribution politics of most NGOs establish a dehumanized situation,
handing out one glass of milk, a few shoes or some baby milk powder now and then
in far too small amounts at some place, leading to knots of people waiting in line,
pushing and punching each other. Resources were always too scarce for his or her
own day, thus dependency and suppliance were pre-programmed. What camp re-
searchers call a camp habitus, was also bemoaned in neocolonial manner by the
white supporters when they complained that children in particular sticked to them like
a bur and that those who had been turned into passive supplicants tried to act pre-
cisely according to this role. However, while many camp studies focus on the resi-
dents, the whole fuss rather reminded us of the insights of the studies on humanitar-
ianism: they analyze these politics of charity as an arbitrary and selective politics of
life, as Didier Fassin puts it (2007), that cements unequal power relations.22
We also had the impression that only little was arranged and communicated between
the different actors, while the UNHCR, but most notably the local and national state,
were notably absent. Frontex alone seemed to offer a briefing once a week for all
NGOs and seek after a good cooperation. However, since the situation in the mili-
tary-run hotspot/detention camp was not very different indeed, since more and more
refugees were sent to the open camps in order to collect medicines from the NGOs,
and since some Frontex staff members were so overwhelmed with pity that they sin-
gle-handedly collected blankets and clothes and took them there, one almost needs
to assume that the miserable situation is indeed part of a state approach following an
escalation strategy directed at EU-Europe. Then again, it points to the complete ab-
sence of an asylum administration infrastructure, which Greece has only very hesi-
tantly if at all implemented according to the many EU directives within the past 15
years. Organizing the transit has been the main raison d’état, as Vassilis Tsianos and
Efthimia Panagiotidis were able to work out in the early 2000s in the framework of our
Transit Migration research (2007)23.
Nonetheless, almost on a daily basis, smaller and bigger protests took place in the
detention camp as well as in the open camps. Given the density in the camps and the
bad and foul food, in Vial such fierce clashes erupted between refugee groups in
March without the police intervening that hundreds of refugees, primarily women
and families, cut holes into the fence and marched to the harbor where they erected
a protest camp24. While they were jointly evicted by the use of massive police vio-
lence and a furious mob of Greek citizens a few days later, many families have been
living in the open camps ever since. Likewise, protests during our stay have lead to
Vial being half-open again and to refugees being able to enter and exit. Therefore,
quite some fluctuation exists between the camps, and a certain degree of autonomy
of migration can be noted, even under the harsh conditions. Indeed, since the refu-
gees have so little to lose anymore, and at the same time many of them have almost
set up something like a resistance community throughout the weeks, they probably
wont accept being returned en masse to Turkey. The struggles about border cross-
ings and the right to flight are, in this sense, still to be expected.
All the while, EU-Europe prepares, internally as well as towards the public, for what
will happen when the deal with Turkey doesn't work out, and Erdoǧan orders to de-
control the coast line and hundreds of boats are put to sea again. Just in case, the
defensive walls around the islands are already being built up rhetorically. They are
meant to become the central registration location in other words: a deadlock, or an
open air detention camp. This will not change much about the lousy conditions on the
islands now already, the refugees are stuck there without any idea about the out-
come or where they might end up.
Back at the desktop in our office, these impressions of and experiences in the
EU-European borderland that seems to have been governed, during the last
months and after the summer of migration, in terms of the Agambian sense by the
continued state of exception beyond the law appear to be very disconnected from
reality. In fact, only a single question keeps haunting us, taking us back to Hannah
Arendt and Giorgio Agamben: the question by which juridical procedures and de-
ployments of power [] human beings could be so completely deprived of their rights
and prerogatives [that is, the right to have rights] that no act committed against them
could appear any longer as a crime, as Agamben puts it (Agamben 1998: 97). To
follow up these juridical procedures and political dispositifs, the ethics and normaliz-
ing strategies, indeed reaching as far back as the colonial history of this Europe, in-
cluding the struggles against them, all will accompany us for the next years during
our critical migration and border regime research. In the process, it is essential to be
in the field ethnographically, to dive into the local situation and, if possible, to listen to
and watch the different actors. First and foremost, however, one needs to be aston-
ished again and again by the movements of migration particularly by the excess of
desire to want a different, a better life.
In the meantime, in September 2016, things have been changing again: the hot spots
on the main five islands in the Aegean Sea that have been already laid out inside the
European Agenda on Migration (Sept. 2015) as a step forward to bring together all
relevant EU agencies like Frontex, EASO and Europol directly behind the border in
an attempt to implement a strict screening and registration system as well as ac-
cess to international protection seem to function. This implicates as well a fast track
asylum procedure that only examines the accessibility of a claim as we have de-
scribed in the beginning of our paper 25; on the other hand, the Greek asylum appeal
boards rejected the claim of the deal that Turkey is a safe third country and ordered
that asylum applications by Syrian refugees on the islands have to be processed26.
The Greek state is already reacting and is trying to change the composition of these
boards to make the deal work. Nevertheless, some refugees managed to get tempo-
rary papers and left to the mainland, whereas others did so by undocumented
means; Furthermore, as volunteers at Lesbos told us, the numbers of arrivals already
seem to have increased, especially in the wake of the failed military coup in Turkey,
with boats nearly arriving daily.27
... As we have argued above, the sheer volume of post-2011 movements from Syria made the country's response to the matter also an issue of national security independent from the EU. So, in 2015 at the peak of mass arrivals from the Turkish shores to Greece, Turkish policy and the EU objectives in controlling irregular migration once again intersected Hess, 2016 andGokalp Aras 2019 (Roadmap, 2013). Those two documents are mainly related with the long-standing externalization policy of the EU; however, as it was mentioned above, the developments in 2015 when millions crossed the Balkan Route had a significant impact on the EU-Turkey relations in regards to border management. ...
... As we have argued above, the sheer volume of post-2011 movements from Syria made the country's response to the matter also an issue of national security independent from the EU. So, in 2015 at the peak of mass arrivals from the Turkish shores to Greece, Turkish policy and the EU objectives in controlling irregular migration once again intersected Hess, 2016 andGokalp Aras 2019 (Roadmap, 2013). Those two documents are mainly related with the long-standing externalization policy of the EU; however, as it was mentioned above, the developments in 2015 when millions crossed the Balkan Route had a significant impact on the EU-Turkey relations in regards to border management. ...
... As we have argued above, the sheer volume of post-2011 movements from Syria made the country's response to the matter also an issue of national security independent from the EU. So, in 2015 at the peak of mass arrivals from the Turkish shores to Greece, Turkish policy and the EU objectives in controlling irregular migration once again intersected Hess, 2016 andGokalp Aras 2019 (Roadmap, 2013). Those two documents are mainly related with the long-standing externalization policy of the EU; however, as it was mentioned above, the developments in 2015 when millions crossed the Balkan Route had a significant impact on the EU-Turkey relations in regards to border management. ...
... With the implementation of the EU-Turkey Deal (European Council, The Council of the European Union, 2016), a special arrangement came into force, stating that all migrants who arrived on islands in the Aegean Sea after 20 March 2016 will be deported back to Turkey, unless "they can prove that Turkey is not a safe third country for them" (Hess and Heck, 2016: 3) or they are categorized as vulnerable by the Hellenic Asylum Service (HAS). ...
Full-text available
This paper examines Moria hotspot in Greece as a logistical site which fulfills two different functions within the European migration and border regime. It locates, contains, and sorts individuals locally at the external borders of the EU and creates, inserts, and processes data for controlling people on the move. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Greece, including interviews with local administrators from the Registration and Identification Service, Médecins du Monde, Frontex and Hellenic Police and a collection of internal and publicly available planning, policy, and management documents and handbooks, the paper scrutinizes how both the movement of migrants and data is organized at the site. By developing an analytic lens of logistics, it outlines a specific mode of infrastructuring which aligns staff from different organizations with databases, devices, and migrants all in one place and organizes mundane practices such as filling out forms, taking fingerprints, signing, and entering datasets along a chain. That way the hotspot is able to locate, sort, and detain those who arrive at the hardened EU border and to create a data infrastructure for controlling, monitoring, and governing further movement by processing data through the bureaucratic channels of the EU’s transnational control assemblages.
... The deal has indeed reduced the figures of crossings to a great extent, even if they have also been on the rise again since the coup d'état attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. It can also be said that as an effect of the deal and the implementation of the EU "hotspot approach" as laid down in the European Agenda of Migration (Antonakaki, Kasparek, and Maniatis 2016;Tazzioli 2016), the arriving migrants are largely locked in on the islands under very poor living conditions (Heck and Hess 2016). On the other hand, at the end of September 2016, only 1,641 Syrian refugees had been resettled from Turkey to the EU, since many EU countries refuse to admit them. ...
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Against the background of the research project on “De-and Re-stabilizations of the European Border Regime”, analyzing the recent political attempts by the EU and its member states to regain control over its borders and the movements of migration after the so-called “European refugee crisis” in 2015, this article discusses Turkey’s role and position within international migration flows and the EU-driven border regime. Reflecting on the recent history of Turkey’s migration and border politics, we argue that academic accounts, which tend to reduce Turkey’s role to a simple extension of the EU border regime, are insufficient to explain the current state of affairs in Turkey. Rather, the article sheds light on the contested and multilayered nature of the Turkish migration regime, which can be partly read as reactions to the European Union, but also as an effect of its own foreign and national policy interests. The outcome is a highly hybrid political formation causing ambiguous legal, social, and political limitations for migrants and refugees, reflected in their journeys and in social and political realities, which are discussed as exemplified in the migratory stories of two migrants.
... deteriorating political conditions in the country. It can also be said that as an effect of the deal and the implementation of the EU ›hotspot approach‹ as laid down in the European Agenda of Migration (Antonakaki/Kasparek/Maniatis 2016; Tazzioli 2016), the arriving migrants are generally locked down on the islands under very poor living conditions (Heck/Hess 2016), and the asylum procedure has been reduced to a so-called ›inadmissibility‹ 12 check (Antonakaki/Kasparek/Maniatis 2016). ...
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Against the background of a recent ethnographic research project on the effects of the EU-Turkey deal and yearlong research activities in Turkey, the article will re-visit the changing dynamics of the recent Turkish border and migration regime in relation to the externalization policies of the EU. We argue that academic narrations, which tend to reduce Turkey's role to a simple externalization of EU border politics, are insufficient to explain the current Turkish migration regime. Rather, the article elaborates how the recent history of Turkey's migration and border regime has become interwoven with other multi-layered dynamics, shaped by different national, regional, and international developments and aspirations. Furthermore, it analyzes the effects of the EU-Turkey deal in regard to the current asylum and migration regime in Turkey.
... In short, Turkey agreed to stop irregular border crossings towards the Greek Aegean islands, and to allow for the readmission of all migrants that had arrived on these islands after the signing of the deal due to Turkey being labeled both a "safe third country" as well as a prospective "country of first asylum" for Syrians. In return, the EU offered substantial financial assistance to improve the situation for Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as the resettlement to the EU of one Syrian refugee for every Syrian deported to Turkey from Greece, the socalled 1:1 procedure (Heck & Hess, 2016). ...
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The migrations of 2015 have led to a temporary destabilization of the European border and migration regime. In this contribution, we trace the process of destabilization to its various origins, which we locate around the year 2011, and offer a preliminary assessment of the attempts at re-stabilization. We employ the notion of “border (as) conflict” to emphasize that crisis and exception lies at the very core of the European border and migration regime and its four main dimensions of externalization, techno-scientific borders, an internal mobility regime for asylum seekers, and humanitarization.
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p>Las migraciones del año 2015 y la lenta e inadecuada respuesta por parte de la Unión Europea ha generado una grave crisis política. Las instituciones y las políticas en relación al régimen de fronteras y migraciones europeas que han evolucionado desde los tratados de Schengen de 1985 y 1990 y la inauguración del Sistema Europeo Común de Asilo con el Tratado de Amsterdam (1997) no han sido capaces de formular, y menos aún de implementar, una respuesta rápida y apropiada. Consideramos que pese a la actual percepción de la “crisis de los refugiados”, la Unión Europea se enfrenta a una crisis más profunda y sistémica de sus políticas de migración y fronteras, enrizada no tanto en el fenómeno migratorio de 2015 sino en el colapso del régimen de frontera mediterráneo durante la primavera árabe de 2011. Esta generó una serie de controversias en torno a cuestiones como la parcialidad de los mecanismos de distribución de los refugiados del sistema de Dublín, así como la creciente indignación publica frente a las tragedias en el mediterráneo, ejemplificado por la operación Mare Nostrum lanzada por Italia a finales de 2013. Actualmente, observamos perspectivas heterogéneas para resolver la crisis. No todas pueden ser compatibles con el sistema Schengen en la medida en que la re-institución de los controles fronterizos nacionales es parte de su fundamento. Otras perspectivas implican, en algunos casos, un cambio radical hacia una mayor europeización de las políticas de migración y fronteras, como la creación de la Oficina de Asilo Europea y la Vigilancia Europea para las Fronteras y las Costas. En base a una investigación etnográfica del sureste de la Unión Europea, analizaremos estos desarrollos en torno a las dinámicas actuales de de- y restablecimiento de Schengen. Recibido : 19.05.2016 Aceptado : 21.06.2016</p
Pro Asyl: Rechts‐ gutachten:‐asyl‐legt‐rechtsgutachten‐vor‐eu‐tuerkei ‐abkommen‐ist‐rechtswidrig/; doctors without borders:‐ turkey‐deal‐false‐solution‐evasion‐responsibility 5 https
/eu‐tuerkei‐deal‐unhcr‐fordert‐mehr‐schutzmassnahmen.html; human rights watch:‐refugee‐crisis/agenda‐action; ai: https://www.‐reckless‐refugee‐returns‐to‐turkey‐illegal/; Pro Asyl: Rechts‐ gutachten:‐asyl‐legt‐rechtsgutachten‐vor‐eu‐tuerkei ‐abkommen‐ist‐rechtswidrig/; doctors without borders:‐ turkey‐deal‐false‐solution‐evasion‐responsibility 5‐on‐the‐eu‐turkey‐deal‐is‐there‐really‐effective‐access‐to‐ asylum‐in‐turkey/ 6 http://eur‐‐content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A22014A0507%2801%29) 7‐release_IP‐16‐2435_en.htm 8‐seeks‐deal‐turkey‐curb‐refugee‐crisis‐151129152134803.html 25 Already inside the European Agenda on Migration,COM(2015)490 final, 23.9.2015; 26‐asfalhs‐trith‐‐xwra‐h‐toyrkia 27‐greek‐islands‐refugees‐turkey/