Since the previous week, Turkey has been returning German IS fighters. Meanwhile, deportations from Germany to Turkey remain incredibly problematic and seldom.
At the end of September, almost seven thousand (6,919) Turkish citizens were required to leave Germany. However, just 296 of them have been deported to Turkey. While the figure marks a slight increase compared to 2018 where 6,643 were required to leave and 277 deportations were carried out, it remains an appalling display of the German-Turkish relationship.
As so often the cause in deportation cases, missing identity documents are the main reason. At the end of 2018, the main single reason for tolerating Turkish expatriates was stated as “missing travel documents”. An even larger proportion of the tolerated is labelled as “other reasons”, which is also predominantly an issue in the procurement of travel documents and identity clarification.
Similar to asylum seekers from many other countries, Turks often do not submit any identity documents. Among all adult applicants who arrived from Turkey in 2018, 20 per cent had no papers.
Turkey continues to play a crucial role here. Ankara does not permit group deportations with separate aircraft, leaving Germany with only one option: return every single individual on a regular commercial flight. It raises the complexity of deportation considerably and can be seen by the fact that, in 2018 alone, twenty-three deportations failed due to resistance by the deportees. Since the return is conducted via a commercial flight, the pilot has the right to refuse the deportees on board, if he considers the deportees to pose a risk to the safety or health of regular passengers.
What aggravates the problem of sluggish deportations to Turkey is the growing legal capacity over the past 15 years for rejected asylum seekers and other people leaving the country to obtain a residence permit. Thus, at the end of 2018, 75,848 Turkish citizens living in Germany were registered in the Central Register of Foreigners whose asylum application was once rejected, in most cases many years ago. The result? One is no longer required to leave the country but in possession of a residence permit.
In typical German euphemistic fashion, the government stated it saw “opportunities for optimization at various points in the return collaboration, which could benefit both sides”. These would be mutually and continuously discussed within the framework of the talks with the Turkish side, for example in the recent trip to Turkey by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer or in the context of the regular German-Turkish migration dialogue, which last took place in June.
Improvements are urgent, as Turkish citizens remain the largest group of asylum seekers in Germany after Syrians and Iraqis by September 2019: 8300 of all 110,000 asylum applications came from Turkey, making it now the second largest group. Moreover, while applications were largely rejected in previous years, the acceptance rate has risen to more than 40 per cent in 2019. And of the almost 23,000 asylum applications that were submitted by Turks in the EU this year, 42 per cent were submitted in Germany.
In light of these developments and the figures, Turkey’s focus of fast-tracking German citizens back seems like a travesty and the government needs to find a solution, other than warm word, to this imbalance rather swiftly.