As Turkey is located in the intersection point of Asia, Europe and Africa and Turkey is a bridge between economically and politically underdeveloped states and rich Western countries, irregular migrants consider Turkey as a transit route. In addition, Turkey has rising power in its region and this makes Turkey a destination country instead of transit country for third country nationals. Besides, the turmoil which has continued for years in the Middle East, Caucasus and the Balkans has led to a mass influx to Turkey and Turkey has welcomed asylum seekers in a difficult situation as a consequence of its historical ties and its sense of obligation. After 1980s, Turkey has become not only immigrant sending country but also immigrant receiving country. Freedom of communication and travel brought about by globalization has led to an increase in migration movements all over the world and Turkey is also deeply influenced by this globalization process.
All these reasons led Turkey to develop strategies, to issue legal reforms and to develop international cooperation in order to combat irregular migration.
Strategies on Combating Irregular Migration
- Country of origin, transit and destination should find common ground and issue necessary legal reforms,
- Ensure coordination between all relevant units of country working within this field directly or indirectly and all national and international institutions,
- Take all necessary measures improving border security,
- Make necessary arrangements in the fields of work and minimize illegal employment,
- Accelerate the process of migrants on acquiring status,
- Strengthen the measures on combating organized crimes such as smuggling of migrants,
- Determine the severe sanctions against those who transport irregular migrants,
- Investigate the reasons why persons migrate from the country of origin and develop projects for overcoming these problems.
Turkey has taken a certain position on irregular migration both by taking effective measures against irregular migration at national level and by actively participating in most of the activities regarding the identification of the problems, information exchange, joint struggle and cooperation on irregular migration at international level and Turkey combats effectively and decisively in order to prevent irregular migration via Turkey and remove the foreigners who stay in Turkey illegally from the country.
Combating irregular migration is no longer an issue that allows the countries to determine their own destiny. In this context, nations are in tendency to continue their combats by creating bilateral, regional and global groups. Turkey has cooperated with numerous national and international institutions in order that opportunity for more effective and efficient activities regarding irregular migration can be provided. International Organization for Migration, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ICPMD and several national non-governmental organizations are the main organizations with which Turkey cooperate.
In early January 2006, Turkey hold the presidency of Budapest Process in which 13 International Organizations together with 53 participants and 4 observer countries participate and which aims to prevent irregular migration, find permanent solution for combating irregular migration and develop sustainable policies on migration management. Turkey has led to the establishment of the Silk Road as an indicator of importance which it attaches to combating irregular migration. Turkey made it possible to bring countries of origin, transit and destination which are on the migration route together.
Turkey has also contributed to the initiative of Transit Migration Dialogue in Mediterranean Region conducted by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).
Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding on 28 May 2012 with FRONTEX (the EU’s Border Security Agency) in order to prevent irregular migration.
“Readmission Agreements” are the main effective method for international cooperation process on irregular migration. These agreements have made it necessary for the countries to take measure against irregular migration and they have ensured that irregular migrants shall return to the country of origin or the latest transit country in conformity with the protection of human rights and international practices. In other words, readmission agreements ensure that irregular migrants shall return safely to the country of origin or the latest transit country with which the agreement was concluded within the framework of the terms and conditions stated in the agreement.
Turkey has placed an importance on signing Readmission Agreements with countries of transit and destination within the scope of combating irregular migration. In the consequence of activities conducted in this context, Readmission Agreement has been signed between Turkey and Syria, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Ukraine, Pakistan, Russia, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yemen, Moldova, Belarus, Montenegro, Kosovo, Norway and the European Union since 2001. However, there is an agreement between our country and the European Union dated March 18, 2016. Readmission Agreement and Visa Exemption Roadmap have been signed simultaneously with the European Union on 16 December 2013 in Ankara and approved by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on 25 June 2014. The Law 6547 regarding the approval of the Agreement was published in the Official Gazette No 29044 on 28 June 2014. The Council of Ministers agreed to approve the Agreement on 21.7.2014 in accordance with the Article 3 of Law 244 of 31.5.1963 and it was published in the Official Gazette No 29076 of 2 August 2014. The Readmission Agreement with the European Union entered into force on 1 October 2014 in terms of the readmission of the parties' own citizens and transit provisions. The provisions on the readmission of third country nationals included in the agreement have not yet come into force.
Readmission Agreement and Visa Exemption Roadmap have been signed simultaneously with the European Union on 16 December 2013 in Ankara and approved by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on 25 June 2014. The Law 6547 regarding the approval of the Agreement was published in the Official Gazette No 29044 on 28 June 2014.The Council of Minister agreed to approve the Agreement on 21.7.2014 in accordance with the Article 3 of Law 244 of 31.5.1963 and it was published in the Official Gazette No 29076 of 2 August 2014. Readmission Agreement with the European Union entered into force on 1 October 2014 concerning the provision regarding their own nationals and it entered into force in order to be the continuation of the readmission agreements previously signed with the EU states. The provisions regarding third country nationals who are stated in Agreement will enter into force three years later.
Turkey took over the chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development from Switzerland for 2014-2015.
Legal Developments in Turkey regarding Irregular Migration
Turkey signed “Agreement on Combating Cross-Border Organized Crime” and two Protocols regulating “Smuggling of Migrant” and “Human Trafficking”, annexed to this agreement, in Palermo on 13 December 2000.
The foreigner who married a Turkish citizen is no longer directly acquire Turkish citizenship due to the amendment to the Turkish Citizenship Law on 4 June 2003. The amendment introduces that the duration of the marriage should be minimum three years in order to acquire citizenship in this way. The amendment to the Law prevents the marriage of convenience taken place for only acquiring Turkish citizenship.
Illicit work is the main negative reflection of irregular migration in social and economic areas. The Law on Work Permits for Foreigners No 4817 and its application regulation came into force on 6 September 2003. It is aimed to prevent illicit work and low-wage employment of foreigners and to have an opportunity to legally control and regulate the migration for the purposes of work.
The crime of smuggling of migrant is drawn up in the Article 79 of Turkish Penal Code No 5237.The crime, even if it is only attempted, shall be imposed a penalty as if it is committed and the Law No 6008 of 20.07.2010 has added it to the relevant article.
The Law on Foreigners and International Protection No 6458 entered into force in order to regulate a policy on migration and manage the migration more effectively. The Directorate General of Migration Management has been established under the Ministry of Interior under the authority of the Law and it became operational on 11.04.2014. One of the duties of the Directorate General of Migration Management is to monitor the developments regarding irregular migrations and to take and implement necessary measures within the framework of these developments.