When Angela Merkel and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan come to the lectern in Istanbul, it actually seems for a moment that a beautiful new era has started. Turkish and German flags hang together harmoniously, the stage is decorated with flower wreaths, the sun is shining outside. The German Chancellor and the Turkish President celebrate the opening of the new campus of the Turkish-German University.
At that moment, the days when the Turkish president accused the German government of "Nazi methods" appear far away. The days when the federal government threatened Turkish tourism and the Turkish economy by tightening travel advice and checking corporate guarantees also seem far away. At the end of the opening ceremony, Merkel even received a gold-plated mirror. Erdoğan has an ornate, Ottoman-style helmet.
The opening of the German-Turkish University is indeed a success of diplomacy and a large number of courageous and motivated people. But as is so often the case with particularly wonderful appointments, not everything is as rosy as it should appear. Merkel did not come to Istanbul to open the campus. It has come to talk to Erdoğan about geopolitics and, above all, to ensure that the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey is preserved.
"A double 2015"
In 2019, around 60,000 migrants came to the Greek islands via Turkey, twice as many as in the previous year. If the agreement worked, it would not happen. The Turkish coast guard lets more people through, so the rumor goes, a demonstration of power by the Turkish president. He wants Europe to finally take more responsibility for refugees and to keep its promises to Turkey. After all, the country is home to more than 3.6 million people from Syria alone, significantly more than all of Europe.
Little is going on in Europe. The migration crisis reveals the limits of community solidarity. To date, the EU has not succeeded in establishing a fair distribution mechanism among the member states. The migrants who arrived in Greece therefore stayed there almost without exception. And that is diplomatic explosiveness.
"If you extrapolate the numbers, the burden on Greece can be compared to the burden on Germany during the great refugee crisis," says Gerald Knaus. The political advisor is considered the architect of the refugee agreement - and warns that the numbers could be even higher in 2020. "Greece expects a double in 2015," says Knaus. "If nothing happens now, Athens will sink into the chaos of migration."