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Turks Questioning Migrant Deal with EU


Migrants disembark from a Turkish coastguard boat after a failed attempt at crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos, in the Turkish coastal town of Dikili, Turkey, April 6, 2016.

Migrants disembark from a Turkish coastguard boat after a failed attempt at crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos, in the Turkish coastal town of Dikili, Turkey, April 6, 2016.


A small group of Turkish activists welcomed the first deported migrants as they arrived at the Turkish port of Dikili. However, many Turks are questioning whether their country can or should absorb them.

The deportees from Pakistan and other countries arrived in Turkey from Greece this week. They have been taken from the docks where, they disembarked, and were brought to a center 500 kilometers away.

Turkey is expecting to receive another group of 200 migrants from Greece on Friday. The move is part of a deal reached in March between the EU and Turkey to ease Europe’s migrant crisis.

The deal with the EU offers a list of incentives for Turkey. It includes billions of dollars in aid and the possibility of travel to Europe without a visa for Turkish citizens. Also, efforts for Turkey to join the EU are to restart. However, some Turks are condemning the deal. They say it does little to increase their long-sought access to Europe.

The agreement is seen as a good opportunity for Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is facing criticism for his government’s offensive against Kurdish separatists in Turkey’s southeast and its crackdown on the media.

Questions about the deal continue

Under the deal reached in March, Turkey will receive more than $3 billion in aid to take care of the migrants. For every migrant returned, Turkey sends one Syrian refugee to the EU.

Greece and the EU were to deport all migrants who arrived on Greek soil after March 20. Greece reports that between 300 and 500 people continue to reach its shores each day. But that number is less than before the agreement went into effect.

Officials say more than 400 people have died over the past year while trying to make the short, but dangerous, crossing between Turkey and some Greek islands.

In Izmir, Turkey’s third largest city, many migrants found acceptance. Today, parks and areas once filled with migrants are now empty. Some in the city miss their business.

“They do no harm to us, no harm at all. On the contrary, the business I did last year was double than this year,” Aydogan Kirisci, a spice vendor told VOA.

Not all Turks are as ready to accept the migrants. Concern about hosting them in large numbers has grown. That is especially the case after a series of deadly terrorist attacks in the country recently.

Even supporters of the deal for Turkey to take in migrants share the concern.

In Izmir’s city center, Turkish travelers form a long line in front of a private business that processes visas for Turks who want to visit EU countries. One of them, who identified himself only as Emre, said the possibility of having visa-free travel to the EU is, for him, not enough to justify the agreement. Some wonder how long the migrants will stay.

“This is the main thing, that we don’t know what (is) going to happen because we don’t know those people and where they will live and if they (are given) a place anywhere in Turkey if it is a secured place,” he told VOA.

Turkey’s government is ensuring that the deported migrants remain out of sight. Experts say this is meant to limit tensions. The government says Syrians will be placed in refugee camps and others will be sent to their home countries.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Luiz Ramirez reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

absorb v. to take in, to bring in

disembarked - v. to leave or get off of something, like a ship or airplane

incentives n. something meant to encourage a person or group to take some action or agree to some plan

crackdown n. a forceful attempt to stop people from doing something that is not permitted by authorities

on the contrary phrase, shows that the following sentence describes something that is the opposite of the one that came before

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