EU solution to refugee crisis: Pay Turkey to deal with it

GlobalPost
A Syrian woman and child walk between tents in Suruc refugee camp on March 25, 2015 in Suruc, Turkey. The camp is the largest of its kind in Turkey with a population of about 35,000 Syrians who have fled the ongoing war in their country.

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NEED TO KNOW:

Thanks largely to efforts by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany is expected to receive between 800,000 and 1 million refugees this year. The world has praised her efforts. Merkel was even floated as a potential Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

But while everyone talks about Germany, no one talks about Turkey. Turkey has accepted some 2.5 million refugees, far more than anyone else, and has been taking in Syrians fleeing conflict since the beginning. Many of Turkey’s large refugee centers are nice, sometimes referred to as “five star” camps. They all have air conditioning and televisions. There are schools, playgrounds and parks.

The European Union, which as a whole is trying desperately to prevent too many refugees from reaching their countries, is now in talks with Turkey about ways it can help. Basically, the leaders of the 28-country bloc want to pay Turkey to help keep refugees out of the EU. Turkey is not yet part of the EU, though it has sought membership for years.

Under the EU plan, Turkey would receive aid to help it manage the refugee influx in its own country. Some of that aid would go toward increasing Turkey’s border security. The Turkish government has not accepted the deal, however, and the conservative (and pretty much authoritarian) Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Edogan, even derided the EU for its unwillingness to take in more refugees. It was not a good look for the EU, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 partly for its “humanitarian” efforts.

"They announce they'll take in 30,000 to 40,000 refugees and then they are nominated for the Nobel for that. We are hosting two and a half million refugees but nobody cares," Erdogan said.

WANT TO KNOW:

It has been a month since GlobalPost published its investigation into Catholic priests who had been accused of sexual abuse in the United States or Europe, but were allowed to then freely work as priests in remote South American dioceses.

Two of the priests have been suspended from their posts since our reporting. Another appears to have moved to a different country. A fourth, who admitted on camera to GlobalPost that he molested a 13-year-old boy in Jackson, Mississippi, continues to happily work at a church in Peru. A fifth priest we investigated had already left the church for personal reasons when GlobalPost first caught up with him.

GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Will Carless and videographer Jimmy Chalk tracked down and confronted the five accused priests over the last year. All five were able to continue working as priests, despite criminal investigations or cash payouts to alleged victims. All enjoyed the privilege, respect and unfettered access to young people that comes with being clergy members.

Pope Francis is popular among many non-Catholics for statements he's made about economic inequality, the need to confront climate change, his more liberal views on gay relationships, and for being hip enough to take a selfie. Pope Francis has also touted reform of the Vatican's safeguards against child abuse.

But advocates and attorneys for victims worry the Pope’s words are stronger than his actions.

“As developed countries find it tougher to keep predator priests on the job, bishops are increasingly moving them to the developing world where there’s less vigorous law enforcement, less independent media and a greater power differential between priests and parishioners,” said David Clohessy, national director and spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. “This is massive, and my suspicion is that it’s becoming more and more pronounced.”  

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

A new poll by a respected think tank in Moscow found a whopping 71 percent of Russians believe the United States plays a negative role in the world today. That’s up from 50 percent only two years ago. It makes you wonder if in the Russian version of Hollywood, all the bad guys are Americans with limited speaking roles and stereotypical accents.

The Kremlin, of course, has long stoked this sentiment through its vast state media machine. It’s only getting worse now that the US and Russia are locked in what some are calling a “proxy war” inside Syria.

The feeling is almost perfectly mutual. A Pew Research Center poll conducted last August found that 67 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of Russia. Here's to happier times.