Refugees as bargaining chips | By Daniel Won

European Parliament

European Parliament

On Thursday, November 24th 2016, European Parliament voted 471 to 37 to freeze Turkey’s EU accession talk with 107 abstentions because, Turkish government has been under a heavy criticism due to its crackdown under the state of emergency since a coup attempt in July. Therefore, although votes are not binding, the resolution reflects the criticism and the EU’s desire to force Turkey into stopping its oppressive measures.



However, president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, responded on Friday with a threat to release refugees into Europe. In fact, Turkey made an agreement with the EU in March 2016, to control migration of refugees in return for accelerated EU membership talk, visa liberalization for Turkish, and aid for refugees. Turkey currently houses more than 3 million Syrian refugees, and some European nations are already fearing the possible influx of refugees from Turkey. Germany already opposed the EU resolution to freeze the talks on Friday, while Croatian Foreign Minister also expressed his concern while visiting Slovenia. Croatia and Slovenia want to keep a closed border since they saw a huge drop of refugees when the EU-Turkey deal was made earlier this year. Naturally, stories about the resolution and Turkey’s threat have been the focus of medias across borders internationally. Nonetheless, real stories of refugees in Turkey are vastly missing in the whole discussion. These refugees are not just numbers and bargaining chips for national interests.


Syrian refugee camp in Turkey.

Syrian refugee camp in Turkey. Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Of some 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, about half are children and youths under 18, and thus, refugee education is very crucial. Unfortunately, more children are not attending schools and choosing to work instead, because the country lacks resources and families need money. Turkey also has been criticizing the EU for its slow transfer of aids for refugees as a part of the deal in March. In order to compensate, schools receive funds from  other organizations like NGOs and the Syrian interim government. However, multiple financiers lead schools to serve various interests and teach religious materials and jihad, while opting out from teaching science and technology in order to propagate certain ideologies for future. Rather than educating refugee children for individual successes, these schools are serving as a breeding ground for propaganda.


Refugee children deserve better attention and it is unfortunate to see how mainstream medias mostly only cover stories of national interests with refugees as bargaining chips. They are real people with real stories, and it is important to hear them and represent them equally.


Hanna, A. (2016, November 11). Educating Syrian refugees still a challenge in turkey. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from ALMONITOR,

Karadeniz, T., & Tattersall, N. (2016, November 25). Retrieved November 27, 2016, from SWI,

Rankin, J., & Shaheen, K. (2016, November 24). Turkey reacts angrily to symbolic EU parliament vote on its membership. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Simsek, A. (2016, November 25). Germany opposes call to end turkey’s EU accession talks. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from

Smith-Spark, L. (2016, November 24). Lawmakers vote to freeze turkey EU accession talks. CNN. Retrieved from

Wright, B. (2016, March 17). Reality check: How soon can turkey join the EU? BBC. Retrieved from




One thought on “Refugees as bargaining chips | By Daniel Won

  1. Lauren Matarazzo says:


    I am happy that you addressed what is going on in Turkey with this post. Though Turkey, I believe, is one of the countries that has received more media coverage with regards to the refugee situation, that is not to say that this coverage has been critical or accurate. It is important to question how the media continually portrays a country and what they are leaving out. In your conclusion you addressed this by highlighting refugee children and how they are often left out of the media narrative. Perhaps if there was more coverage on how children are being affected, ideas and perceptions of the refugee crisis would not be so one-sided, but rather, complex as we know the situation to be.


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