While open to talks with Brussels, he said the key to stopping the flow of refugees was to establish a no-fly zone over the Turkish-Syria border and a buffer zone in northern Syria. It is demanding nearly 800 new staff from the member states. A commission team was also due in Turkey later Monday to assess cooperation on the ground.
Regarding the shipwrecks that frequently occur on migrant vessels headed to Italy, the European Union plans to enhance its ties with Libya and call for an EU-UN surveillance-based naval operation.
Numerous migrants reaching Europe are Syrian refugees, fleeing the civil war in their homeland which has killed more than 240,000 people since 2011.
Ankara will meanwhile put “priority” on setting up six new refugee reception centres partially funded by the EU under the draft plan published by the European Commission following Mr Erdogan’s visit to Brussels on Monday.
European governments say they will take in around half a million migrants from Syria over time, but EU officials have made it clear they want Turkey to keep the refugees for now and process them before eventually sending them on to Europe. The crisis is stirring up political tensions well beyond the Middle East’s borders. A majority of these refugees struggle to survive under challenging conditions outside the refugee camps. Indeed, preventing the Syrian Kurds from creating a territorial linkage with Iraqi and Turkish Kurds has been a strategic goal of Turkey’s since the beginning of the conflict.
It said the Commission and representatives had agreed on this plan last week and that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also coordinated on this with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. The provision of resettlement and humanitarian admission places one of the principal means by which the worldwide community can show solidarity with countries hosting large number of refugees and provide urgent safety and protective measures for the most vulnerable refugees.
That may sound innocuous, yet what it actually means is that, once these refugees are registered in Turkey, they can be returned to Turkey should their bid for asylum in Europe get rejected.
“Mutual insincerity now underpins Turkey-EU relations”, Wolfango Piccoli, managing director at Teneo Intelligence in London, said by email.
President Erdoğan’s visit, which came on the occasion of the opening of the Europalia Arts Festival (in which Turkey is starring this year) was thus far from a ceremonial visit.
Turkey is the main gateway for migrants coming to Europe, with most making the short but risky sea crossing to Greece.
“Without Turkish support, no solution to the refugee crisis is possible”, said the European Stability Initiative thinktank.
By accepting the plan and implementing it, Ankara “would also contribute to accelerate Turkey’s fulfilment of the visa liberalization roadmap benchmarks”, the text said, referring to Ankara’s long-held desire to smooth travel for its citizens. The PYD is now allied with the West in the US-led fight against IS. Hungary has been heavily criticized for cracking down on migrants, while Slovakia is planning to sue the European Union over a decision to relocate asylum seekers.