Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System in:

Barış Can Sever

The Role of Non-State Actors for Refugees in Turkey, page 7 - 24

Local Integration of Syrian Refugees in Mersin

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4497-1, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7533-3,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System Migration in International Relations Migration is not a new phenomenon in human history. Homosapiens have not ended nomadism in our modern age and the precipitating reasons for the forced migration have not been vanished yet. Even before the modern international system (17th century) was constructed, immigrants and refugees were the affected agents of various causes such as conflicts, poverty, climate change and undemocratic regimes. Both the causes and outcomes of the migratory issues were influential for societies, empires and ancient Greek city-states. Needless to say, migration is also quite important for international relations and their evolvement. Koslowski (2002) mainly examined human migration through history and its impact on the transformation of international relations in his article by looking at pre-modern age world politics. Throughout the ages, migration has become one of the influential factors to shape history as it affects the demography, politics, economy, social and cultural dynamics (Koslowski, 2002: 375). For instance, the homogeneous feature of the Greek city-state Athens ethnically evolved into a plural society due to the impact of migration caused by factors such as war and epidemics (Koslowski, 2002: 388). Migration, immigrants, and refugees are prominent issues for many academic disciplines such as philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, economy, cultural and urban studies, politics, international relations, and law. There have been many scholarly works within the inter-disciplinary areas which focus on multiple dimensions of the migration phenomenon. The Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM) reveals intermingled structure of the global issues related to the area of migration and also its comprehensive influence on human history by emphasizing significant variables of social, economic, Chapter 1 1.1. 7 and cultural change with the non-static relationship between migration and history (GCIM, 2005). The complex nature of this phenomenon consists of the background and the sources of the migratory movements and refugee flows, including current conditions of the immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, as well as relations among the migrants, host society and state, the possible future for the people, the communities and states. In other words, migration is a long and complex process which requires being investigated at each level consisting of before, during, and after phases of the migratory movements. Also, the matters of legal status, politics, economy, social and cultural dynamics deserve to be examined during this process. That’s why, literature on migration and refugees regarding their flows to and settlements in other countries varies considerably. Due to the sophisticated nature of the debates around migration and refugees which embrace various aspects of the issue, it has been one of the discussion topics whether the disciplinary bias is limiting the research in this area (Castles, 2010: 1569). In addition to that, each discipline has its own focus and perspectives for migration and refugees without ignoring the approaches of other disciplines. International Relations (IR) as one of the distinguished areas in social sciences mostly propounds the arguments related to the interactions among state and non-state actors (individuals, organizations, etc.), state’s policies and its implications on different levels such as global, national and local layers. Concerning migration and refugees, states are regarded as one of the key actors to implement relevant policies and manage migratory processes and the outcomes of migration (Hollifield, 2012). Especially, when we think about the forced migrations of refugees, the states can be interpreted as the actors of both generating and governing the events such as conflicts and wars for the former, management and integration for the latter. Also, migration is highly related to one of the states’ sovereignty realms which is its borders. Although globalization and intensive migratory movements sometimes make the borders meaningless, states are still hegemon on their borders which determine the territory of a nation-state and socalled legal position of the individuals in the country. That’s why, it is a matter of fact that state sovereignty and borders are still prominent issues for migration and refugees. Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 8 Likewise, the discipline of IR significantly deals with the non-state actors which are on the list of relevant agencies related to the matters of migration and integration. In our age of globalization, communication and digitalization, non-state actors have a considerable impact on the course of events in global, national, regional and local areas as much as states do. Guttormsen and Wetering (2013) argue that interactions among states can be better comprehended by analyzing not only the states’ actions but also the intermingled relations among states and nonstate actors such as business circles, universities and research institutions (Guttormsen & Wetering, 2013: 2). Considering the interpretation above, non-state actors are not an exception to the matters of migration and refugees through the perspectives of International Relations. In addition to that, the liberal perception of international relations has been preponderating on the institutional settings of world politics, mostly in the last three decades of the 20th century. According to Viotti and Kauppi (2012), “global governance to neoliberal institutionalists does not mean world government, but rather the ways and means by which both state and not-state actors act authoritatively to deal with issues on the global agenda” (Viotti & Kauppi, 2012: 118). Regarding mainstream IR theories, liberal approaches rather than realist perspectives have placed importance on the role of non-state actors within world politics. In the 20th century, there were not just massive migrations but also exchanges of populations by the decision of the nation states. This century witnessed a cold war and two major wars, passed through significant changes in the international arena. After the Second World War (WW2), international political leadership and the spectrum were rendered mostly by the United States (US) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) who were the two main opposite sides of the cold war. With the end of the cold war and the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, the US took leadership of international politics which entered into the phase of neoliberal globalization. Also, in this century, Europe left its prolonged wars behind as the main pillars of the European Union (EU) were starting to be settled by agreements among European countries during the post-WW2 period. The birth of the League of Nations at the beginning of the century also evolved into a more functioning body which became the United Nations (UN), in the second half of the century. 1.1. Migration in International Relations 9 The lessons taken from the tragedies of previous centuries and the first half of the 20th century were reflected on international agreements which were mostly drafted and monitored by the UN. One of the significant areas has been the international refugee regime on which countries signed crucial international agreements as the benchmarks of this regime. Before illustrating the agreements and institutions, a typology of international regimes which could basically offer an idea about the international system and the international refugee regime after WW2, will be presented. The typology of Hollifield (2012), introduced in Figure 1, “points to a clear distinction between the regulation of capital, goods, and services on one hand and migrant labor or refugees (people) on the other” (Hollifield, 2012: 12). Although this typology represents a dimension of neo-liberal political economy structure which has been interpreted by various accounts as a source of global inequalities, it needs to be taken into account here in order to contribute to the comprehension of the position of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) which have been prominent international bodies for the rights of refugees and immigrants, and international migration and refugee regimes. A Typology of International Regimes Source: James F. Hollifield (2012). Why do states risk migration?, p. 13. Figure 1. Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 10 The UNHCR was established in 1950 after WW2 in order to respond to the needs of millions who escaped from or lost their homes in Europe (UNHCR, 2001–2017a). It has been functioning as one of the main figures in the international migration regime since that time. Another significant international organization is the IOM (first known as the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe), which was founded in 1951 with a similar purpose as the UNHCR establishment. After the war, the IOM had the mission of “identifying resettlement countries for the estimated 11 million people uprooted by the war, and it arranged transport for nearly a million migrants during the 1950s” (IOM, 2017a). Since that time, it has also been operating within the international migration regime as an influential actor. The Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees have been two important international agreements which clarify and define the rights of refugees and the responsibilities of states for protecting the rights of refugees. The UNCHR briefly explains the 1951 Refugee Convention with these words: “The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them” (UNHCR, 2001– 2017b). According to the Refugee Convention, the main goal of the agreement is to preserve the principle of non-refoulement under the wings of international law. The principle of non-refoulement basically represents that “the most essential component of refugee status and of asylum is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution” (UNHCR, 1977). In addition to that, the scope of the Geneva Convention was constructed in accordance with the dynamic feature of the migration phenomenon which mostly prevails in the host country. That’s why, the Convention agreed to guard refugees’ rights concerning their plights in host countries. For instance, these rights of refugees were mostly based on their daily life dynamics in the host country which can be listed as “the right to work, the right to housing, the right to education, the right to public relief and assistance, the right to freedom of religion, the right to access the court, the 1.1. Migration in International Relations 11 right to freedom of movement within the territory, the right to be issued identity and travel documents” (UNHCR, 2011). For the protection of and with respect to refugee rights, the states have been expected to cooperate with the UNHCR which regarded itself as the guardian of the 1951 Geneva Convention and 1967 Additional Protocol (UNHCR, n.d.). The Convention and its Additional Protocol represent two important pillars of the international refugee regime as they encourage the cooperation and solidarity among states on an international ground. More importantly, the presence of the Convention always has the possibility to stimulate the international community to protect the rights of the refugees in spite of failures on the ground. Concerning the Geneva Convention and 1967 Protocol, it was claimed that while the former was a limited initial step as it only conserved the rights of European refugees, the latter became a crucial supplementary agreement to the Geneva Convention as it was aimed to respond to spreading displacement issues around the world (UNHCR, 2011). To elaborate on the 1967 Protocol, a report by the UNHCR highlights that the Additional Protocol lifted the geographical and time limitations which were annotated in the 1951 Geneva Convention (UNHCR, 2011). The reform with the Additional Protocol on the Convention rendered this international agreement universal rather than regional or local. A person who is displaced or faces persecution in any country can have the rights of refugees and settle in another country by acquiring the same rights as the citizens of the host states in accordance with the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention. Only three countries, Madagascar, Turkey and the Vatican, have not removed the reservation on the geographical limitations which implies that “refugee definition contemplates a temporal and a geographic limitation – one being recognized as a refugee only in relation to events which occurred in Europe and before 1 January 1951” (Nasr, 2016). To sum up, after WW2, the international community seemed to be making advancements on a global issue regarding the rights of refugees and the regulation of their daily life in the host country, at least on paper and in particular examples. Moreover, international migration is an important issue for international regime also by its’ links to human rights and humanitarian as- Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 12 sistance. The humanitarian perspective of this issue also brings responsibility for international community at national and international levels. Turkey’s role by hosting and embracing Syrians following the outbreak of the war in Syria can also be considered an example of these humanitarian policies. For a better explanation of this role and process, the following sections of this chapter will mainly focus on the migration history of Turkey and responses to migratory movements during its history. Turkey and Migratory Movements Turkey has a diverse experience in international migration flows and the migratory movements that Turkey has faced, has also changed through different time periods (Heper & Sayarı, 2016). The geography where Turkey is located, Anatolia, has long been a witness to various migratory movements. With its peculiar geographical and geopolitical position that has hosted different civilizations throughout history, surrounded by oil producing countries, three seas, with fertile soils including trade and migration routes, the straits, rivers that irrigate fertile soils resulted in Turkey becoming a region of both immigration and emigration as well as a transit country. The conflicts, fights, genocides and wars around its surrounding geography also brought migration flows to Turkey by making the country both a destination and also a transit point. Especially, as İçduygu (2014) stated, globalization and the European migratory system have influenced the profile of Turkey by transforming it from a country of emigration into an extensive country of immigration (İçduygu, 2014: 2). The migratory movements and the reflections of the migrations on Turkish politics have steadily continued since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. According to the numbers given by the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), 384 thousand people from Greece (1922–1938), 800 thousand people from the Balkans (1923–1945), 800 thousand people from Germany (1933– 1945), 51,542 people from Iraq (1988), 345 thousand people from Bulgaria (1989), 467,489 people from Iraq (1991), 20 thousand people from Bosnia (1992–1998), 17,746 people from Kosovo (1999), 10,500 1.2. 1.2. Turkey and Migratory Movements 13 people from Macedonia and 500 thousand people from Syria (2011– 2013) migrated to Turkey due to conflicts, political and social incidents in these countries (DGMM, 2015). The 1934 Law on Settlement has been regarded as the first comprehensive regulation for refugees and asylum seekers within the history of the Turkish Republic (Şimşek, 2017). The Settlement Act was to regulate the settlement of people who requested asylum in Turkey. However, due to the scope of the Settlement Act, it has also been one of the regulations that faces the most criticism. The law only includes the migration and integration of those who have had Turkish origin and culture. That’s why, it was considered as one of the policies of Turkifying the population in the Turkish Republic (İçduygu & Aksel, 2013). In parallel to the policies of Turkifying the population, the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey was the first migratory movement in the history of the Turkish Republic. Looking at the Balkan migrations which represent the migrations from Yugoslavia to Turkey, another source separates the movements into two main and intensive periods. The first period has been determined as the years between 1919 and 1926 when 131,000 muhacir (a common name for the ones who had to migrate towards Anatolia from Balkan countries during the last years of the Ottoman Empire) escaping from Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom and the years between 1930 and 1935 when people escaped from Serbian fascist rule (White Hand) in the Yugoslavian Kingdom and sought asylum in Turkey. The second period is represented by the period of Stalin and post-Stalin when migrations happened between 1948 and 1957 (Baklacıoğlu, 2015). The immigrant population led the way for the government in Turkey to formulate a foreign policy perspective and the active policies in former Yugoslavian countries due to family ties and historical relations. Furthermore, during WW2, many people – mostly Jewish and socialists were rescued from the Nazi’s slaughter by diplomatic cooperation. While a part of these people settled in Turkey, most of them used Turkey as a transit way to Palestine. The people who decided to stay in Turkey highly influenced the educational system and the disciplines of medicine and law in Turkey. Although they migrated to the US after the end of the war, their children and grandchildren kept living in Turkey (Balkır & Kaiser, 2015). Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 14 The end of WW2 opened new chapters in the history of migration and refugees regime. After the experiences of numerous tragedies at home and plights of refugees at host countries, international community – European countries as a processor in world politics, verged to cooperate with each other and find collective solutions to the possible plights of the refugees who needed to escape from their home country due to violence, discrimination, poverty and so on. The first official step was the signing of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees as a milestone has been one of the significant conventions which Turkey also became a part of with the inclusion of a reservation the geographical limitations. The geographical limitations retained by Turkey under the 1951 Geneva Convention means that refugee status can only be given to the ones who are fleeing from Europe to Turkey. According to Article 61, Law on Foreigners and International Protection, a refugee in Turkey is defined as: “A person who as a result of events occurring in European countries and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his citizenship and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself to the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it, shall be granted refugee status upon completion of the refugee status determination process” (DGMM, 2014). In general, the convention clarified a number of conditions and status for the rules of international protection regarding refugees. Turkey also became a part of the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees which has included additional chapters to the 1951 Geneva Convention. The very short summary of these convention and protocol is to ensure that refugees are given the same rights as European citizens. Migration from Turkey to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s transformed the country into a country of emigration. During that time period, Turkey sent its citizens to several European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium under bilateral agreements, which are generally known as “guest worker” programs. This type of 1.2. Turkey and Migratory Movements 15 migration also created other migration flows in the following years mostly under family reunifications. During the 1980s, political refugees from Turkey joined the picture of emigration as they also moved to European countries. When it comes to late 1990s and the beginning of the millennium, under the atmosphere of a transformed international system after the end of the Cold War period, Turkey became one of the transit countries for the irregular migrants and refugees towards the European Union. Those people who were moving to Europe mostly departed from Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, and Pakistan where people could not live a decent life due to poverty, political and social conflicts (İçduygu, 2000: 358; İçduygu, 2011: 4). Turkey has not only been a transit country in this manner, but it has also been a destination for irregular migrants and refugees from the former members of the Soviet Bloc, Africa and the countries given above. It has been emphasized that while European countries have been attractive places for immigrants and refugees because of their geographical proximity and opportunity for better life standards, countries like Turkey, which have borders with European countries, have become both target and transit countries and are faced with political, economic and social reflections of irregular migration (İçduygu, 2015). Turkey witnessed a series of migrations from different regions during the 20th century. It has been indicated that more than 1.6 million people moved to Turkey between the years of 1923 and 1997 (Kirişçi, 2003). Also, many asylum seekers escaped from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War period. Most of them were treated through resettlement programs by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Moreover, when it came to the late 1980s, many refugees escaping from Iran and Iraq to Turkey were regarded as asylum seekers. Approximately half a million refugees, mostly Kurdish from Iraq in 1988 and 1991, flew to Turkey. Mass influxes from the Balkans as Albanians, Bosnian Muslims, Pomaks (Bulgarianspeaking Muslims), and Turks in 1989, 1992–1995, and 1999 moved to Turkey as well (Kirişçi, 2003). In the evolution of Turkish politics concerning asylum and refugee policies, the pressure rooted in an influx Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 16 from Iraq to Turkey at the beginning of the 1990s caused changes in the official regulation for asylum seekers and refugees (Şimşek, 2017). In 1994, Bylaw on the Procedures and the Principles Related to Mass Influx and Foreigners Arriving in Turkey either as Individuals or in Groups Wishing to Seek Asylum from a Third Country was adopted (Karadağ, 2012). Finally, Turkey’s EU Accession process and relations with the European Union can also be considered as another important and critical background for the evolution of Turkey’s history in migration flows and the development of migration management in Turkey. Therefore, analyzing the emigration and the immigration history of Turkey without the perspective of Turkey-EU relations in the second half of the century will be an inadequate interpretation. The harmonization process of Turkey in accordance with the EU accession process also influenced the development of migration policies, which were formulated by the Turkish government. In addition to the dynamics of global politics and globalization, the development of policies and regulations on migration, in particular, after the 2000s can be assessed by the influence of Europeanization (EU-ization). For instance, the Law on Foreigners and International Protection which was entered into effect in 2014 should be considered both as a result of the Europeanization period and regional issues in the recent epoch. According to Soykan (2012), this change in legislation has been a significant step towards achieving two main goals of Turkish politics regarding migration policies being in accordance with the Europeanization (Soykan, 2012: 38). While the axis of migration policies in Turkey was evolving within the track of Europeanization process in the 2000s, one of the most devastating international events occurred in its neighboring country Syria, brought about not only by huge number of losses but also a massive influx. Due to adjacent features of the countries and the long length of the Turkey-Syria border (991 km), Turkey has become one of the countries which have been faced with this massive influx. Syrian refugees have been moving to Turkey since 2011 and their numbers sharply increased after 2013 by the prolongation of the conflict. In 2017, the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey was reported as more than 3 million (European Commission, 2017). During this period (2011–2017), 1.2. Turkey and Migratory Movements 17 new official regulations were formulated and implemented by Turkish authorities to respond to the urgent need of protection for the increasing numbers of Syrian people in Turkey. The Turkish government preferred to call Syrians in Turkey “guests” during the first years of the conflict. But it was a vague term within the international protection regime. The prolongation of the conflict, the involvement of media, academia and civil society organizations and also the obvious need for sophisticated policies by the permanency of the Syrians, caused several steps such as the Law on Foreigners and International Protection and introduction of Temporary Protection Regime for Syrians in Turkey to be taken after 2013. In light of this background, the next section will give insight into the Syrian civil war, Syrian refugees and their stay in Turkey. Syrian Civil War, Refugees and Turkey It is crucial to visualize Syrian society before giving a narrative of the Syrian civil war. Syrian society has citizens from different ethno-religious and cultural backgrounds. These backgrounds can be simply listed as Sunni-Arabs, Alawites, a Shiite offshoot, Christians, Druze, and prominently Kurds and Armenians as ethnic minorities (Carpenter, 2013). The country had cosmopolitan characteristics of Syria at the beginning of the 20th century by including diverse groups in its society such as Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Catholic Greeks, Chaldeans, Circassians, Jews, Kurds, Latin Catholics, Maronites, Muslim Turks, Orthodox Greeks, Protestants, and Turkmens (Kaya, 2017). However, pan-Arabism left its mark on the 20th century in Syria. Furthermore, pan-Arabism evolved into the nationalist “socialist” rule which represents the ideology of the Baath regime. The regime has also carried the feature of secularism. The evolvement of the state ideology and Baath regime with overriding usage of the state apparatus in Syria have kept the leaders of the party in power for a long time. The Syrian Arab Republic has been one of the countries located in the Middle East neighboring Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Concerning the features of geo-strategy and geopolitics, the country has always had strategic importance for regional and international af- 1.3. Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 18 fairs which not surprisingly influenced the internal affairs of Syria. During the Cold War, Syria was acted in the foreign policy arena in accordance with the actions of the USSR, which was one of the major sides in the Cold War. For approximately half a century, the Assad family has been ruling the country with the support of a part of society which has been based on different backgrounds of ethno-religious identities. Hafez Al-Assad, who was the predecessor and the father of Bashar Al-Assad, ruled the country between 1971 and 2000. The family has been controlling power with an authoritarian regime which has been called the Ba’ath regime. The regime has been controlling the public sphere by using different methods such as inclusion of the education system. The Syrian war looks like a complicated puzzle which has been comprised of the tentacles of local, regional and international powers on paper and the ground. Moreover, due to the vast number of actors in the conflicts and the war, cross-cutting interests and alliances would perplex the audience both inside and outside of the war. That’s why, hundreds of small details within the incidents need to be investigated by scholars and experts and be touched upon by storytellers and historians in texts and their verbal statements. However, in this part, the narrative of the Syrian war will be drawn by the author with the general lines and actors of the events in order to lay the groundwork for the Syrian refugees’ flow and their life in host countries. The presence of the “Arab Spring” social movements which started and spread from Tunisia in 2011 and opened the road for the revolts against the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East – North African (MENA) region as a recent historical phenomenon, also triggered the insurrection against the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad in Syria (Bhardwaj, 2012). When Bashar al-Assad broke his promise on postponed reforms in accordance with the demands of particular segments of society, the prolonged strained atmosphere in the society turned into an insurrection. Accumulated anger and frustration in the society overlapped with the spill-over effects of the “Arab Spring” social movements at that time. Dissident uprisings in the beginning (March, 2011) evolved into the bloodiest war in recent history which caused some of the biggest humanitarian devastation and increased sectarian hostili- 1.3. Syrian Civil War, Refugees and Turkey 19 ties (Zorlu, 2015). Over the years, the conflicts descended into a fullscale war in Syria (BBC, 2016). Jenkins (2014) explains the positions of the hostiles in the Syrian civil war which consist of Assad’s Forces with the support of foreign actors and Hezbollah, the Opposition Forces with the inclusion of The Free Syrian Army, other rebel organizations, jihadists, the Kurds, and foreign support (Jenkins, 2014: 5–11). As explained above, the war did not only continue with the participation of local powers but also foreign powers engaged in the war with a variety of particular interests. That’s why, the conflicts also turned into a full-scale proxy war in Syria. In addition to that, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a large area of the power vacuum and prolonged conflicts and fights in Syria brought about the worst humanitarian losses for first time since the WW2. Many people in Syria became victims of internal displacement and became refugees around the world. Syrians were not likely to go to Turkey as being a part of migratory movements before 2011. Between 1995 and 2013, asylum applications from Syrian people did not surpass a thousand while others in the region such as people from Iran and Iraq made their applications for asylum more than 20,000 times (Kirişçi, 2014). The departures from Syria to Turkey before the political crisis and Syrian civil war were mostly due to commercial relations, family ties and touristic travel. The bloody and brutal war in Syria started with conflicts in 2011 which reshaped forced migration history in both the country and the world. With the rising tension of the conflicts, Syrians started both their internal and external flows. According to numbers given by the UNHCR, more than 5 million people had to escape from Syria to seek refuge in various countries and 6.3 million people in Syria became internally displaced persons (UNHCR, 2001–2017c). The first group of refugees escaped from Syria to neighboring countries, mostly Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Since the conflicts turned into a war, Turkey has become the country hosting the largest refugee population. As it was updated in 2017, Turkey has been leading the countries regarding refugee reception as having 3,079,914 registered Syrian refugees (UNHCR, 2017a). On the other hand, a part of the refugee population did not only enter the country but also made their way to Europe. That’s why, Turkey has been designated as both an Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 20 arrival and transit country at the same time. According to the numbers given by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1.5 million migrants and refugees reached Europe within the last 2 years, and more than 8 thousand people died on the way to Europe (IOM, 2017b). Although a large number of Afghan, Iraqi and Somalian refugees were part of the deaths on the way to Europe, Syrian refugees were representing most of these people. Initially, the presence of a small number of refugees from Syria did not resonate with the public in Turkey. The government’s discourse and foreign policy was to focus on toppling the Syrian president in a short period. That’s why, most people and the government itself expected that a small number of Syrian people in Turkey at that time would be going back to their country in accordance with the envisaged results of the Syrian war. However, it did not happen as was predicted. The Syrian war expanded to almost the whole Syrian land with its atrocity. Also, ISIS was able to fill the power void in some parts of Syria and Iraq. These events brought about massive influxes to the neighboring countries of Syria, particularly Turkey and Jordan. In the beginning (May, 2011), responsibility for the management of issues related to Syrians was assigned to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) which has been a part of the Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry. For a certain period, AFAD took control of the refugees’ settlement and management of humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees. When it came to 2014, the estimated number of Syrians in Turkey was about 900,000. Only a few of them were taken to refugee camps. Most of them were living in urban and suburban areas without special protection. Between 2011 and 2014, the rapid increase of refugees caused authorities to formulate new policies. In 2014, while the establishment of the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) under the Prime Ministry had been demonstrating the upgrade in migration management, DGMM took governance of migration management from AFAD in order to develop policies and contribute to the efforts for the cooperation on the ground (Kirişçi, 2015). The Law on Foreigners and International Protection, Article 103 – (1) says: “The Directorate General for Migration Management has been established under the Ministry of Interior with a view to implement policies and strategies related to migration; ensure 1.3. Syrian Civil War, Refugees and Turkey 21 coordination between the related agencies and organizations in these matters; carry out the tasks and procedures related to foreigners’ entry into, stay in, exit and removal from Turkey, international protection, temporary protection and protection of victims of human trafficking” (DGMM, 2015). On the other hand, in 2014, as the former UNHCR officer and Vice Chairman of Asylum and Migration Research Center, Metin Çorabatır stated: “Neither the Turkish government, nor the international agencies were ready to deal with the problem of “urban refugees” in Turkey, and they still have no strategy on the issue” (Hürriyet Daily News, 2014). From 2014 to 2016, the number of Syrian refugees, again, rapidly increased and reached about 2.8 million in Turkey. Most of the refugee population kept living in urban places. According to Erdoğan (2015), due to the impact of ISIS’ atrocities on the people in Syria since 2014, not only “Sunni Arabs” who were regarded as escapees from Assad’s oppression but also Kurds, Nusayris, Ezidis and other groups in Syria became a part of the refugee flow (Erdoğan, 2015: 317). Until 2014, Syrian people in Turkey were called “Syrian guests” in accordance with the discourse of the Turkish government on these people. Later, prolonging conflicts in the Syrian war made the picture an indispensable reality for international actors and the Turkish government. In 2014, it was declared by the Turkish government that Syrian people in Turkey were going to be protected under the Temporary Protection (TP) regime. According to the DGMM, TP has been assuring three fundamental elements such as open border policy and admission to the territory, non-refoulement principle, and providing basic and emergency aid to the comers (DGMM, 2015). The temporary protection regime only assured the identity cards with the registration and several significant services to Syrian refugees on paper. Particularly, legal framework in TP regime for Syrian refugees in Turkey provides access to health services, education, social support, and labor market has in TP regime regardless of being urban or camp refugees (UNHCR, 2015). Although it guarantees several rights to refugees and helps people to overcome their bureaucratic challenges compared to the past, the protracted temporary regimes have the possibility of leading to a limbo situation for refugees due to a lack of rightbased policy implications (Yıldız & Uzgören, 2016). Accordingly, since Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 22 2014, there has not been any sign of peace in Syria and the refugees from Syria are still facing a number of problems in the society, particularly the ones living in urban places. The growing number of Syrian refugees, the persistence of the conflict in Syria, the dispersed population of Syrian refugees throughout the whole country and urban places, and the lack of international assistance were some of the challenges for the Turkish government to deal with when looking at the rising problems of Syrian refugees and the host society. Without a planned strategy for gradual integration policies, it has been anticipated by numerous scholars and researchers in the chapters of policy recommendations that there would be growing numbers of problems in the society regarding the relations between Syrian refugees and local communities. Kirişçi (2015) indicates that while the tolerance towards the Syrians in the community has been decreasing, the behavior of the local communities towards the Syrian refugees has also changed in a negative way (Kirişçi, 2015: 310). That’s why, it has been very important to formulate a comprehensive policy for the integration of Syrian refugees into local communities. However, there have been regular calls for the international community to tend to the needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey. The UNHCR has been the main international actor operating the registrations for international protection and resettlement in a 3rd country with the additional responsibility of reporting on the circumstances of Syrian refugees in Turkey. As a result, the growing numbers of Syrian refugees in Turkey means a growing number of people who intend to move to Europe. The rise of this trend has brought about strict border controls and immobility for Syrian refugees. That’s why, the EU was eager to have a deal with Turkey and to give Turkey some incentives in order to prevent the flows into Europe. The EU and Turkey made a controversial agreement in 2016 to prevent the irregular flow of Syrian refugees into the European Union. The content of the deal simply consists of mutual exchanges of refugees (one for one), strict border controls, monetary assistance to Turkey, renewed accession talks and a visa liberalization process for the citizens of Turkey. Even though the agreement has been praised in the reports of the European Commission as it has been believed to decrease irregular flows, human rights associations keep criticizing the agreement due to several reasons such as 1.3. Syrian Civil War, Refugees and Turkey 23 ongoing deaths at sea and consideration of the state’s security rather than human security (European Commission, 2017; Schultz, 2017; Şimşek, 2017: 23). Current circumstances of Syrian refugees in Turkey, which create a limbo for many Syrians in TP, have proved several arguments related to that the controversial EU-Turkey agreement has become a human rights violation (Amnesty International, 2016; Şimşek, 2017). In conclusion, states have still been the most prominent actors in respect to migration and refugees. Nevertheless, the international system established after WW2 has also been creating a space for non-state actors in international migratory regimes. However, the international system regarding migratory movements has faced various failures at many points. The migratory movements of Syrian refugees could be the most prominent example of these failures. In this case, the international community has failed at having equal responsibility and sharing the burden fairly. Concerning this situation, particular states and nonstate actors in these states mostly failed to engage with the Syrian refugees without adequate international assistance. Turkey has relatively played an active role in respect to the management of the Syrians’ migratory movements and settlements. Regarding the Syrian refugees’ stay in Turkey, transition from the temporary to permanent circumstance has transformed state and non-state actors’ actions in the field from emergency aid to efforts for integration. In this context, the role of non-state actors within the local integration of Syrian refugees in the case of a city in Turkey will be discussed without excluding the state perspective in the rest of the thesis. Chapter 1 Syrian Refugees, Turkey and the International System 24

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In this research, the theoretical and conceptual debates on the local integration of refugees and the role of non-state actors in the integration are brought together. Their investigation take place in the nexus of migration management, the implementation of the states and non-state actors on the field. Particularly, the local integra-tion is examined through the Syrians’ stay in Mersin/Turkey. In the methodology part of this research, semi-structured interviews were applied to 20 non-state actors in Mersin (Summer 2017) in order to have an idea about the role that they have played in the local integration of Syrian refugees. In this way, while the profiles of selected non-state actors in the field were revealed, their participation and contribution to the integration pro-cess were interpreted.


In dieser Studie werden die theoretischen und konzeptionellen Debatten über die lokale Integration von Flüchtlingen und die Rolle nichtstaatlicher Akteure bei der Integration zusammengebracht. Diese werden im Umfeld des Zusammenhangs mit dem Migrationsmanagement, der Umsetzung der Staaten und der nichtstaatlichen Akteure vor Ort betrachtet. Insbesondere wird die lokale Integration durch den Aufenthalt der Syrer in der türkischen Stadt Mersin untersucht. Im methodischen Teil dieser Studie wurden zwanzig nichtstaatliche Akteure in Mersin (Sommer 2017) mit halbstrukturierten Interviews befragt, um eine Vorstellung davon zu bekommen, welche Rolle sie bei der lokalen Integration syrischer Flüchtlinge gespielt haben. Auf diese Weise wurden zwar die Profile ausgewählter nichtstaatlicher Akteure in diesem Bereich aufgedeckt, ihre Beteiligung und ihr Beitrag zum Integrationsprozess interpretiert.