Secretary Sietse Blom wrote two articles for La Razon this week, a Spanish newspaper, on the recent EU-Turkey deal and the role of Angela Merkel in handling the refugee crisis.

La Razon 5La Razon 4

  1. Why is the EU doing so many concessions to Turkey? Ankara has even called for an increase on the 3 billion of euro’s aid.

With the position the EU finds itself in after so many failed summits, it is hardly surprising. Turkey now holds a powerful hand, with a desperate EU looking for a solution to the crisis. They cannot afford another summit to flop. A permanent solution is needed. Even if it means biting the bullet and making a deal with a country that, to put it mildly, is not the biggest advocate for human rights, press freedom and freedom of speech. The fact that Prime Minister Davutoglu only this week has taken over newspaper Zaman perfectly illustrates the EU’s urgent need for this accord. However comprehensible in this case, with the situation having lead to humanitarian need in Greece, the EU is undeniably turning a blind eye to violations like the newspaper take-over. Where some say the EU is ‘selling its soul’, I would not go as far as to use those words. One has to understand the pressure heads of member states are under to finally find a solution. Returning home empty-handed is just not viable anymore. Instead of regarding this deal as hypocrisy or even selling the EU-soul and its values, the indispensible necessity for a deal must not be overlooked. Saving the European project has to remain the top priority. In an ideal situation, closing an agreement with a country that in the same week heavily violated the core Western value of freedom of press, would be unthinkable. This situation, unfortunately, is everything but ideal. Time is ticking away, countries shut their borders for refugees and for one another and the European project is in danger. In such a situation setting aside one’s role as an advocate for human rights and freedoms, however painful, is the only right thing to do.

2. Why do you think Angela Merkel is against closing the refugee route, is she the only leader with a bit of sensitivity or is she keeping to the EU principles?

To state Merkel is the only head of state that acts sensitive in the refugee crisis would be unfair to a lot of leaders. Many other member states have taken a big share. Sweden, having taken the most refugees per capita within Europe, definitely has proven its worth and humane side. Nevertheless, countries feel like they are reaching their limit, with support for offering extensive shelter declining rapidly. The Balkanroute does however illustrate something only Merkel has shown during the entire crisis: leadership. She is the only one that has stayed true to her message from the beginning, and has actually been one of the few wíth a message. Shying away from responsibility or the discouragement policy of countries like the Netherlands do not come close to the strong stance of Merkel from the beginning. Even with all the opposition from other heads of states, other parties and even those within her own party, she has kept word and kept course.

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