This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Turkey Tries to Leverage the Syrian Refugees

You may recall that the EU is paying Turkey a fairly large amount of money to effectively warehouse 3.5 million refugees from the Syrian civil war, rather than letting them head into Europe. A story in today's Guardian reports that Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has threatened to let those people go if the upcoming Syrian peace talks include the Kurds, whom the Turkish government considers to be terrorists.
A sixth round of UN-sponsored Syrian talks to find a political solution for the six-year conflict is due to resume in Geneva on Tuesday, and Turkish opposition to any role in the talks for the Kurdish forces, the YPG, is likely to prove one of many stumbling blocks. Turkey regards the Syrian Kurds as inextricably linked to the Kurdish militant organisation, the PKK, which operates inside Turkey.

Speaking after a meeting with Theresa May in London on Monday, Binali Yıldırım said it was possible for Turkey to renege on its agreement with the EU, under which 3.5 million refugees from neighbouring Syria have settled inside Turkey instead of heading for western Europe. 
Insisting Turkey is essential to Europe’s security and had prevented more than 53,000 foreign fighters reaching Syria and Iraq, he said: “We know how much [of] a headache the PKK constitute. If there is tolerance vis-a-vis these organisations in the long term, Europe will be endangering its own.”
The Prime Minister insisted this was not a threat (really??) but he did point that while Turkey has kept the refugees out of Europe, the EU has failed "to stick to a bargain struck in March 2016 in which Turkey would be granted visa liberalisation and cash in return for keeping Syrian refugees within its borders."

The article does not mention whether the fate of those Syrian refugees now in Turkey will be discussed at the Peace talks. One would assume that repatriation to Syria would be the preferred solution, although it is not clear how well they would all be received, nor what resources there would be for them to restart their lives.

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