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The international migration and foreign policy nexus: the case of Syrian refugee crisis and Turkey

N. Ela Gökalp Aras, Zeynep Şahin Mencütek


The relationship between ‘foreign’ and ‘immigration and asylum’ policy is complex and has significant consequences beyond these policy areas. Despite their ever increasing importance, migration and refugee studies have been rarely tackled within the foreign policy dimension of state’s responses, in particular regarding refugee crisis. This paper both demonstrates the importance for and impact of foreign policy orientations on immigration and asylum policies. It questions how ‘foreign’ policy and ‘asylum’ policy are intertwined and generate differences in coping with the mass influx with a focus on the Syrian refugee crisis and Turkey’s policy responses. We argue that assertive foreign policy of Turkey, particularly willingness to be the actor ‘establishing the order’ in the Middle East’ which led to the ‘open-door’ and humanitarian asylum policy at the initial stages of refugee flow. However, the isolation of Turkish foreign policy along with the increase in the numbers of refugees necessitated recalibration of the adopted policy towards the one based on ‘non-arrival’, and ‘security’ emphasizing ‘temporary protection’, ‘voluntary return’ and the ‘burden share’.  


Migration management; mass influx; temporary protection; Turkey’s immigration and asylum policy; Turkish foreign policy

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