FECL 13 (March 1993):


The Turkish Prime Minister Demirel has called on Germany, no longer to grant refugee status to asylum seekers from Turkey. Mr. Demirel justified his request on the grounds that persecution did not exist in Turkey. When questioned about reports on human rights violations in his country, Mr. Demirel said that isolated cases might have occured, but that Turkey was an open country with a free parliament and a free press.


Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24.2.93




Mr. Demirel's move is significant in three ways.

  1. It is, indeed,a prompt reaction to the conclusions of the London conference of the 12 EC-Immigration ministers on 30 November 1992. The ministers had agreed that asylum applications from refugees from countries with "generally no serious risk of persecution" should be considered as "manifestly unfounded", thus allowing for a quick rejection of the claim and the deportation of the concerned.
    Among the criteria listed at the conference for establishing "safe" countries of origin was the existence of democratic institutions.
  2. It is not by mere accident that the Turkish prime minister chose Germany as the first EC-country for presenting his claim. Germany is since long ago Turkey's most faithful European ally. German experts have trained anti-terrorist units and modernised the police in Turkey and Germany is the main importer of arms to Turkey.
  3. Demirel's reference to the freedom of press is cynical against the background of an ongoing campaign of physical liquidation of independent and oppositional journalists in Turkey and the harassment of kurdish publications, but he knows that the German government is in desperate search for a pretext to stop the influx of- most kurdish - refugees from Turkey. And should Germany give in to his demands, the rest of the EC-countries is likely to follow, as he might have concluded from recent experience in the Balkans.