The European Commission has surprisingly postponed the release of its annual progress report on Turkey’s EU membership application process, amid a key visit to the EU capital by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during which the growing refugee crisis tops the agenda.
He said in order to solve this crisis, the two sides discussed financial assistance, border management, fight against smugglers, integration policies and visa liberalisation.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with Juncker on Monday.
Europe is grappling with the largest influx of refugees and migrants since World War II with many fleeing the war in Syria.
“Turkey and the European Union need to walk together [down] this path. We need to look at providing help to those unfortunate people who come to our shores,” he said.
In Turkey, six new refugee camps for up to two million people which would be set up, partly financed by the European Union, the newspaper said.
“The situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to Europe via Turkey must be stopped”.
But Erdogan presented a wish list of his own, arguing that his country had shouldered its responsibility from the start of the Syrian conflict, spending 7.8 billion dollars to host millions of refugees from Syria and Iraq. He is likely to seek concessions from the EU.
The Turkish president also reiterated his calls for a regime change in Syria, adding that Assad was still in power despite “being responsible for the death of 350,000 people” because he was being backed by Iran and Russian Federation.
Adelina Marini #Tusk: We discussed the possibility of a buffer zone in #Syria but Turkey needs to be as prepared for action.
But Western officials have cast doubt on the plan, and those doubts will be reinforced after Turkey said on Monday that its jets had intercepted a Russian fighter plane that violated Turkish airspace just days after Moscow launched air strikes in Syria.
Erdogan, preparing for a November 1 parliamentary election, boasted of Turkey’s record in taking two million refugees from neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and contrasted it with the numbers passing through the bloc. They all expressed their appreciation to Turkey for hosting so many refugees, but were cautious about the president’s proposed solutions, which they fear will be a cover to attack Kurdish separatists.
But the head of Germany’s Pro Asyl human rights organization, Guenter Burkhard, lambasted any move to seal off the marine border between Greece and Turkey as a “declaration of moral bankruptcy” since worldwide laws prevent the rejection of asylum seekers.
In turn, EU leaders pleaded with Mr Erdogan to do more to staunch the flow of Syrian refugees toward the West, exacerbating a migration crisis that is already testing the limits of European solidarity.