Turkey and the European Union


Sir, – Charlotte McDonald-Gibson writes that in 2016 the EU offered €6 billion in aid to improve conditions for refugees in Turkey (“Europe should not be afraid to call Erdogan’s bluff on Syria”, Opinion & Analysis, October 22nd).

In truth, half the money was earmarked to fund a 911km border wall between Turkey and Syria, the second-longest structure in the world after the Great Wall of China.

The wall comprises seven-ton concrete blocks, two metres wide and three metres high, topped with one metre of razor wire. Electronic features include close-up surveillance systems, thermal cameras, land surveillance radar, remote-controlled weapons systems, command-and-control centres, line-length imaging systems and seismic and acoustic sensors. The wall, completed in 2018, together with new barriers along Syria’s borders with Lebanon and Jordan, has effectively ended the mass exodus of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war. The fall in the numbers of migrants to Europe since 2015 has little to do with other measures.

Turkey’s ministry for EU affairs argues that without the wall (paid for with €3 billion of EU taxpayers’ money) a further 1.5 million migrants would have arrived in the EU in 2017.

Turkey has spent over $30 billion of its own money looking after some 3.5 million migrants who arrived after the civil war started in Syria in 2011.

The EU is in no position to “fill a global vacuum and offer much-needed moral leadership”, as your contributor desires. – Yours, etc,