Securitization of Migration in Europe: Critical Reflections on Turkish Migration Practices

Burcu Toğral
2.284 1.074


The burgeoning research on securitization of migration has provided outstanding works and opened up new avenues in migration studies. Particularly, it draws the attention to how migration is administered/framed as a security issue and prompts scathing criticism against 'illiberal' migration practices of 'liberal' states. However, these works put the focus exclusively on the EU and pay little attention to how the securitization in the EU restructures third countries' migration regimes. This paper intends to fill this gap in literature through exploring the recent Turkish migration practices. Because of its strategic geopolitical position (e.g. being one of the most important transit countries for irregular immigrants and asylum seekers into Europe) and in relation to its candidacy status, Turkey provides a very suitable framework in order to depict how the EU expands the securitization process into third countries and how candidate countries (are obliged to) follow the EU's requirements and thereby replicating the same securitization process in their migration regimes. In exploring these issues, this article applies a sociological approach to securitization that builds upon the role of practices (policies, policy tools, instruments, etc.) rather than 'speech acts.' In other words, it explores how migration practices employed by the EU and third countries transform migration into a security issue through an empirical inquiry, including document analysis and 'expert' interviews. More precisely, it discusses, first, the dynamics of the securitization of the EU's migration regime. Second, it provides critical reflections on the changing character of Turkish migration practices in the light of its EU candidacy status. In this setting, the focus of the paper is on the latest discussions surrounding the visa issue, border controls, asylum policies, as well as readmission agreement. Finally, it raises normative concerns and suggests that there is a need for a critical engagement with democracy and human rights discourses surrounding the EU-Turkey relations, as both sides privilege their own 'state-centric' interests over the rights and dignity of migrants.


Migration, Securitization, the EU, Turkey

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