23rd Mar 2018

Turkey and EU start haggling on refugee crisis

  • Erdogan (l) has also accused the EU of 'xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism' (Photo:

The Turkish president, in Brussels on Monday (5 October), belittled Europe's handling of the refugee crisis, while EU leaders sought his help to stop migrants coming.

The summit was designed to clinch a deal, in principle, on protecting Europe’s borders in return for more aid.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, after meeting EU Council president Donald Tusk, that Turkey has taken 10 times more refugees than the EU.

He said he’s spent $7.8 billion on the situation, while getting just $417 million in international aid.

He added “we’ve done this without any discrimination”, in a dig at eastern EU states, such as Slovakia, which say they prefer Christian to Muslim migrants.

Tusk said: “The EU needs to protect its borders better … We expect Turkey to do the same”.

“The situation where hundreds of thousands are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped”.

More than 350,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Syria, left Turkey for Greece in the past nine moths, EU sources said. Turkish border authorities stopped just 50,000 people.

The European Commission has put forward a plan, the EU contacts added, which includes: new European funds for Turkey; speeding up EU visa-free travel; joint Greek-Turkish border patrols; creation of migrant reception centres in Turkey; and help for refugees to integrate in Turkish society.

It doesn’t include a pledge for the EU to take in 500,000 refugees, as previously reported, the sources said.

For his part, Erdogan agreed to launch a high-level working group to discuss all aspects of the migrant crisis.

The talks are to explore border security, fighting smugglers, and Turkey’s idea of creating safe zones inside Syria.

The EU institutions want to launch a process which they can formally endorse at next week’s EU summit.

But with a bellicose Erdogan gearing up for national elections on 1 November, there is little hope of immediate cooperation.

“Before the elections, he [Erdogan] won’t agree to anything”, an EU source said.

Erdogan’s proposal of safe areas in Syria is a sensitive issue.

The idea is for the Turkish military to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria to stem the flow of migrants and to repatriate some refugees. The operation would require a UN blessing and the EU is reluctant to give support.

Mark Toner, a US State Department spokesman, on Monday in Washington, also poured cold water on the idea of a no-fly zone in Syria.

"We don’t think it’s necessary and we don’t think it’s feasible on the ground. It involves a lot of logistical support that we don’t have in place right now to maintain such a venture", he said.

Meanwhile, Erdogan used his EU visit to demonise Kurdish groups.

He said Kurdish forces in the region, such as the PKK or YPG factions, are also terrorists even if they're fighting the jihadist Islamic State.

“This terrorist organisation should not be given the chance to achieve some sort of cloak of legitimacy under the guise of fighting ISIS [Islamic State] in Syria”, he said.

His strident rhetoric comes after he recently stepped up a military campaign against Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

It also comes amid competition for votes with the moderate Kurdish and pro-reform HDP party.

EU unveils Turkey migration plan

The Commission has unveiled a plan on how to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey, including extra funds and a joint crackdown on smugglers.

Turkey targets Kurdish rebels after bomb attack

Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebel targets after the bomb attack over the weekend in Ankara, for which the government blames Islamic State. Ankara vows elections on 1 November will go ahead.

Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing

An Austrian police unit headed by a far-right town councilor and tasked to tackle street crime was sent to raid the offices and homes of people working for Austria's domestic intelligence agency - prompting German counterparts to review cooperation.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU will be exempted from tariffs, says US minister
  2. Malmstroem: EU 'hopes' for US tariffs exemption
  3. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  4. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  5. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  6. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  7. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  8. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions