It is about time Europe decided how it wants to tackle the refugee crisis, with a fully collaborative effort with Turkey as a real partner or believing the transfer of a measly 3 billion euros is enough to make their problems go away.
The EU should not delude itself by thinking that the Turkish public will acquiesce to be treated as a large refugee camp on Europe's periphery easily deceived by promises of money. Money was not and will never be enough by itself to resolve the refugee crisis.
The EU should treat Turkey as an integral part of Europe and its future, mobilizing its entire societal capabilities, including aid groups, media, cultural and social institutions, to deal with the matter in an effective, mutually beneficial and compassionate solution. The EU's leaders are currently playing pass-the-parcel, blaming each other for the tragedy of our age and hoping Germany's Angela Merkel will eventually make it all good.
They fail to grasp the complexity inherent in such crises, which their efforts to reduce to monetary aid is hardly enough to tackle. Turkey has already spent $9 billion and its social cohesion has stood the test despite sheltering up to 3 million people from Syria and Iraq. Turkey is faced with a huge traumatized and dynamic population with desperate physical needs, along with social and cultural requirements. Turkey was able to handle this huge task by itself thanks to the overwhelming generosity of its people, civil groups and community leaders. Students mobilized to welcome Syrians to their schools. NGOs across the country work day and night to help the refugees. Setting up refugee camps alone where these people are fed and sheltered from the elements is not enough. Thousands of Turkish teachers, psychologists, counselors and volunteers are trying to lighten the burden these fellow human beings carry and share their bread with them. The social breakdown, political chaos and extremism that erupted in Europe from the trickle of thousands of refugees never happened in Turkey which is home to 3 million Syrians.
The EU has proven its incapability of preserving its supposed unity of vision in the face of the refugee crisis. It needs Turkey among its members to credibly resolve the crisis. Only through cooperation and partnership can we address this calamity.
It is perverse to expect Turkey to solve the refugee crisis on its own while blaming it for everything that goes wrong.
If the EU decides to treat Turkey as a convenient scapegoat and see it like a giant refugee camp, the Turkish public will demand from its government to take the initiative and ask it to a) reject the 3-billion-euro fund transfer b) reject the deal that will allow European countries to send refugees back to Turkey c) demand from Europe to open its borders just like Turkey for a free movement of refugees.
If Turkey is alone in its efforts to solve the refugee crisis, no one else, not those countries that fail to open their borders, not those that can't agree on a comprehensive strategy to address the matter, have the right to pontificate over policies Turkey deems necessary. If Europe continues to see this as an exclusively monetary issue and if Turkey is destined to carry this burden alone, the government has the right and the obligation to formulate policies it deems as in the interest of the people.
Until the time comes when a refugee in Kilis, where the number of Syrians outnumber locals, and a refugee in Berlin are problems of equal weight for all of us, we cannot consider ourselves nearing an answer.
Those European leaders who immediately blame Turkey for each and every refugee tragedy should realize that the social upheaval they are currently facing is nothing compared to what can happen when the trickle turns to flood. The divided and constantly bickering Europe stands in stark contrast to the unity of purpose displayed by Turkey, from the humblest volunteer to the highest executive. Every European leader should be aware of the fact that united we stand, divided Europe falls.