Swiss migration authorities are negotiating an agreement wherein Turkey would take back refugees who had travelled to Switzerland via their country, according to Mario Gattiker, head of the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.
Gattiker told Swiss public television, SRF, on Saturday that in exchange for taking back certain individuals, Turkey would receive €3 billion (CHF3.2 billion) in financial aid and facilitated entry into Switzerland for its citizens.
"The goal is to be able to regulate that a citizen or a third-country national, such as a Syrian, can be sent back if they entered Switzerland illegally, if the case meets the requirements of the agreement,” Gattiker said.
If concluded, the agreement with Turkey would be one of 40 such agreements in place between Switzerland and other countries.
The negotiations are going forward despite the fact that Turkey is not officially on the list of “safe countries” – in other words, a place where people are free from persecution. However, Gattiker said that every case would be analysed – as is already done currently – to see whether the threat of persecution exists for the person being sent to Turkey.
Gattiker defended the strategy by arguing that it’s best for refugees to stay in the region of the world that they came from.
“They only [leave the area] if they have no other options, no more food and end up on the streets,” he said, explaining that working with Turkey would allow for a reduction in migration from the region.
swissinfo.ch and agencies