Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-lm8cj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-07T02:03:38.667Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Border policies and migrant deaths at the Turkish-Greek border

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 June 2019

Orçun Ulusoy
Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
Martin Baldwin-Edwards
Middlesex University, London, UK International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Vienna, Austria;
Tamara Last
Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands;


This paper investigates the impact of developments in Turkish migration management policy and changes in management of the Greek-Turkish border on border deaths prior to the 2015 mass inflow of refugees. As the locus of multiple and sustained Frontex operations, as well as several autonomous major changes in relevant policies and practices over the 2000–2014 period, the Greek-Turkish border can serve as a post hoc laboratory for analyzing the implications of EU-influenced migration and border management for deaths on the border. We conclude that a chaotic mix of national politics, policy development and law enforcement practices, flexible smuggling networks, and Frontex operations contributed to the mass inflows of 2015–2016 and ensured mass casualties.

© New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press 2019 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Açıkgöz, Meral. “Turkey’s Visa Policy: A Migration-Mobility Nexus.” Turkish Policy Quarterly 14, no. 2 (2015): 97107.Google Scholar
Angeli, Danai, Triandafyllidou, Anna, and Dimitriadi, Angeliki. “Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Irregular Migration Control Policies in Greece.” MIDAS Policy Paper. Athens: ELIAMEP, 2014. Scholar
Ashutosh, Ishan and Mountz, Alison. “Migration Management for the Benefit of Whom? Interrogating the Work of the International Organisation for Migration.” Citizenship Studies 15, no. 1 (2011): 2138.Google Scholar
Ataç, İlker, Heck, Gerda, Hess, Sabine, Kaşlı, Zeynep, Ratfisch, Philipp, Soykan, Cavidan, and Yılmaz, Bediz. “Contested B/Orders: Turkey’s Changing Migration Regime.” Movements 3, no. 2 (2017): 921.Google Scholar
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin. “Migration between Greece and Turkey: From the ‘Exchange of Populations’ to the Non-recognition of Borders.” SEER– South-East Europe Review for Labour and Social Affairs 9, no. 3 (2006): 115122.Google Scholar
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin. “Regularisations and Employment in Spain: ICMPD REGANE Assessment Report.” ICMPD, MPRA Paper, 2014. Scholar
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin. “Immigrants, Racism and the New Xenophobia of Greece’s Immigration Policy.” MMO Working Paper Series, Working Paper No. 11. Athens: Mediterranean Migration Observatory, 2014. Scholar
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin, Blitz, Brad K., and Crawley, Heaven. “The Politics of Evidence-based Policy in Europe’s ‘Migration Crisis’.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Special Issue (2018). doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1468307.Google Scholar
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin, van Boeschoten, Riki and Vermeulen, Hans . “Introduction.” In Migration in the Southern Balkans: From Ottoman Territory to Globalized Nation States. Edited by Vermeulen, Hans, Baldwin-Edwards, Martin, and van, Riki Boeschoten. Cham: Springer International, 2015. 129.Google Scholar
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin and Lutterbeck, Derek. “Coping with the Libyan Migration Crisis.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (May 2018). doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1468391.Google Scholar
Biehl, Kristen. “Migration ‘Securitization’ and Its Everyday Implications: An Examination of Turkish Asylum Policy and Practice.” CARIM– IV Summer School on Euro-Mediterranean Migration and Development 2008, Best Participant Essays Series 2009/01 (2009). Scholar
Carling, Jorgen. “Migration Control and Migrant Fatalities at the Spanish-African Borders.” International Migration Review 41, no. 2 (2007): 316343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carrera, Sergio and Guild, Elspeth. “‘Joint Operation RABIT 2010’– FRONTEX Assistance to Greece’s Border with Turkey: Revealing the Deficiencies of Europe’s Dublin Asylum System.” Brussels: CEPS, 2010. Scholar
Carrera, Sergio, Leonhard, den Hertog, and Marco, Stefan. “It Wasn’t Me! The Luxembourg Court Orders on the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal.” CEPS Policy Insights, No. 2017–15, (April 2017). Scholar
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Coping with a Fundamental Rights Emergency: The Situation of Persons Crossing the Greek Land Border in an Irregular Manner. Vienna: FRA, 2011. Scholar
Frontex. RABIT Operation 2010 Evaluation Report. Warsaw: FRONTEX, 2011.Google Scholar
Frontex. “Press Release: Frontex to Deploy 175 Specialist Border-Control Personnel to Greece.” October 29, 2010.Google Scholar
Gatti, Mauro. “The EU-Turkey Statement: A Treaty That Violates Democracy.” European Journal of International Law blog. April 18–19, 2016. Scholar
Goularas, Gökçe Bayındır, Ulas Sunata. “Türk Dış Politikasında Göç ve Mülteci Rejimi.” Moment Dergi 1 (2015): 1240. doi: 10.17572/mj2015.1.1240.Google Scholar
Heijer, Maarten den and Spijkerboer, Thomas. “Is the EU-Turkey Refugee and Migration and Refugee Deal a Treaty?” EU Law Analysis, April 7, 2016. Scholar
House of Lords. “Operation Sophia, the EU’s Naval Mission in the Mediterranean: An Impossible Challenge.” London: House of Lords, European Union Committee, May 13, 2016. Scholar
İçduygu, Ahmet and Aksel, Damla B. “Turkish Migration Policies : A Critical Historical Retrospective.” Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs 18, no. 3 (2013): 167190.Google Scholar
İçduygu, Ahmet and Toktaş, Şule. “How Do Smuggling and Trafficking Operate via Irregular Border Crossings in the Middle East? Evidence from Fieldwork in Turkey.” International Migration 40, no. 6 (2002): 2554. doi: 10.1111/1468-2435.00222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kirişci, Kemal. Justice and Home Affairs Issues in Turkish-EU Relations: Assessing Turkish Asylum and Immigration Policy and Practice. İstanbul: TESEV Publications, 2002.Google Scholar
Kirişci, Kemal. “A Friendlier Schengen Visa System as a Tool of ‘Soft Power’: The Experience of Turkey.” European Journal of Migration and Law 7, no. 4 (2005): 343367. Scholar
Kirişci, Kemal. “Managing Irregular Migration in Turkey: A Political-Bureaucratic Perspective.” CARIM Analytic and Synthetic Notes 2008/61, Irregular Migration Series: Socio-Political Module, 2008.Google Scholar
Last, Tamara. “d@b Database.” May 12, 2015. Scholar
Last, Tamara, Mirto, Giorgia, Ulusoy, Orçun, Urquijo, Ignacio, Harte, Joke, Bami, Nefeli, Pérez Pérez, Marta, , Flor Macias Delgado, , , Amélie Tapella, Alexandra Michalaki, Eirini Michalitsi, Efi Latsoudi, Naya Tselepi, Marios Chatziprokopiou, , and Spijkerboer, T.P.. “Deaths at the Borders Database: Evidence of Deceased Migrants’ Bodies Found along the Southern External Borders of the European Union.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43, no. 5 (2017): 693712. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2016.1276825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Last, Tamara, Spijkerboer, Thomas, and Ulusoy, Orçun. “Deaths at the Borders: Evidence from the Southern External Borders of the EU.” Revue Hijra: La Revue Marocaine du Droit d’Asile et Migration 1 (2016): 523.Google Scholar
Lutterbeck, Derek. “Policing Migration in the Mediterranean.” Mediterranean Politics 11, no. 1 (2006): 5982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martino, Francesco. “Migrations: Evros, Last Door to Europe.” Osservatorio Balcani E Caucaso– Transeuropa. September 9, 2010. Scholar
McDonough, Paul, and Tsourdi, Evangelia. “Putting Solidarity to the Test: Assessing Europe’s Response to the Asylum Crisis in Greece.” New Issues in Refugee Research, Research Paper No. 231. Geneva: UNHCR, 2012. Scholar
Memişoğlu, Fulya. “Between the Legacy of Nation-State and Forces of Globalisation: Turkey’s Management of Mixed Migration Flows.” EUI Working Paper, RSCAS 2014/122. San Domenico di Fiesole (FI): EUI, 2014.Google Scholar
Narbone, Luigi and Tocci, Nathalie. “Running around in Circles? The Cyclical Relationship between Turkey and the European Union.” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 9, no. 3 (2007): 233245. doi: 10.1080/14613190701689886.Google Scholar
Niemann, Arne and Natascha, Zaun. “EU Refugee Policies and Politics in Times of Crisis: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives.” Journal of Common Market Studies 56, no. 1 (2018): 322. doi: 10.1111/jcms.12650.Google Scholar
Pallister-Wilkins, Polly. “The Humanitarian Politics of European Border Policing: Frontex and Border Police in Evros.” International Political Sociology 9, no. 1 (2015): 5369.Google Scholar
Peers, Steve and Roman, Emanuela. “The EU, Turkey and the Refugee Crisis: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” EU Law Analysis, February 5, 2016. Scholar
Pro Asyl. “‘The Truth May Be Bitter, but It Must Be Told’: The Situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the Practices of the Greek Coast Guard.” Frankfurt am Main: Pro Asyl, 2007. Scholar
Schapendonk, Joris. “From Transit Migrants to Trading Migrants: Development Opportunities for Nigerians in the Transnational Trade Sector of Istanbul.” Sustainability 5, no. 7 (2013). doi: 10.3390/su5072856.Google Scholar
Schaub, Max. “Humanitarian Problems Relating to Migration in the Turkish- Greek Border Region: The Crucial Role of Civil Society Organisations.” Research Resources Paper for COMPAS, University of Oxford, March 2013. 118.Google Scholar
Toğral, Burcu. “Securitization of Migration in Europe: Critical Reflections on Turkish Migration Practices.” Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations 11, no. 2 (2012): 6577.Google Scholar
Toksöz, Gülay. “Irregular Migration and Migrants’ Informal Employment: A Discussion Theme in International Migration Governance.” Globalizations 15, no. 6 (2018): 779794. doi: 10.1080/14747731.2018.1474040.Google Scholar
Tolay, Juliette. “Turkey’s ‘Critical Europeanization’: Evidence from Turkey’s Immigration Policies.” In Turkey, Migration and the EU. Edited by Paçacı, Seçil Elitok, Thomas Straubhaar. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press, 2012. 3961. Scholar
Topak, Özgün E. “The Biopolitical Border in Practice: Surveillance and Death at the Greece-Turkey Border Zones.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 32, no. 5 (2014): 815833.Google Scholar
Tsianos, Vassilis and Karakayalı, Serhat. “Transnational Migration and the Emergence of the European Border Regime.” European Journal of Social Theory 13, no. 3 (2010): 373387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ulusoy, Orçun and Battjes, Hemme. “Situation of Readmitted Migrants and Refugees from Greece to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement.” VU Amsterdam Migration Law Series, No. 15, 2017. Scholar
Wissink, Marieke and Ulusoy, Orçun. “Navigating the Eastern Mediterranean: The Diversification of Sub-Saharan African Migration Patterns in Turkey and Greece.” In Understanding Migrant Decisions: From Sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean Region. Edited by Gebrewold, Belachew and Bloom, Tendayi. London: Routledge, 2016. 120138.Google Scholar
Yükseker, Deniz. “Shuttling Goods, Weaving Consumer Tastes: Informal Trade between Turkey and Russia.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 31, no. 1 (March 2007): 6072. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2007.00710.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar