Testing Turkey's State Capacity: The Syrian Migration Crisis as Catalyst

Ulusoy K.

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF MIGRATION AND LAW, vol.23, no.2, pp.152-175, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1163/15718166-12340098
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EBSCO Education Source, EBSCO Legal Collection, EBSCO Legal Source, Education Abstracts, HeinOnline-Law Journal Library, Index to Legal Periodicals, Index to legal periodicals & books, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.152-175
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The exodus of around 5 million people from Syria has evolved into a transnational 'social question', requiring a transnational response. The latest Syrian assault on Idlib in February 2020, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises of this brutal civil war, brought this to the world's attention again. Highlighting the scale of this 'social question' on the eve of a Covid-19 pandemic, it shows that displaced Syrians of Idlib had been trapped between the advancing Syrian regime and Russian troops. In response, Turkey, already hosting almost 3.5 million Syrians and closing its border in 2015 to prevent a further influx, let refugees - Syrians and migrants from other countries - head for the EU. Aiming to cajole the EU into heeding its demands, Turkey linked this to its Syria cause. Once again, the latest crisis showed that Turkey had reached the limit of its capacity to absorb more Syrians. This paper deals with Turkey's response and alternatives for the most relevant stakeholder, the EU.