The “Other” Outside the European Borders: EU, Turkey and Refugees

    • Cover Porto 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Andre Pereira Matos, Universidade Portucalense - Portucalense Institute for Legal Research, Porto


    Since 1999 Turkey has been an official candidate to the European Union’s full membership. In order to achieve the final aim of this process, the country needs – as any other candidate – to comply with the Union’s demands, i.e. to undergo a complex and time-consuming process of Europeanisation. This implies not only the acquisition of formal rules, but also the internalisation of values, beliefs and norms. However, one of the major obstacles that have hampered the country’s efforts to join the EU has been Human Rights. Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) of the acquis communautaire, the document that guides the accession process, focus on this specific and essential issue. Yet, Turkey has been criticised by the European Commission vis-à-vis its performance in terms of Human Rights over the last years. In 2015, the EU and Turkey signed a deal regarding the management of the refugee crisis, giving to Turkey the burden of dealing with refugees in exchange for financial support and, very likely, an acceleration of the accession process. Yet, this deal may constitute a breach in international conventions concerning the status of the refugee and has perversely prompted conditions that may question the respect of Human Rights in the Turkish territory. Therefore, the deal between the two entities was designed to solve the pressure caused by massive influxes of refugees in the European Mediterranean countries and to foster EU-Turkey cooperation. Nevertheless, the price to pay for the promotion of that cooperation is an aspect that led to a certain impasse of negotiations – the disrespect for Human Rights, which the EU has not taken that much into consideration given the current scenario. Thus, this paper aims at analyzing the content of the deal signed between Turkey and the European Union, contextualize it in the light of international conventions (such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) and relate it to a possible momentum in the accession process of the country, as well as with Turkey’s performance in terms of respect for Human Rights. Furthermore, it will be explored the way this strategy has been shaping European identity and the otherness of Turks and refugees outside the European border.