Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

EU unveils Turkey migration plan

  • Erdogan hugs it out with Commission chief Juncker in Brussels earlier this week (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission published on Tuesday (6 October) a detailed list of actions that Turkey and the EU should take to stem the flow of migrants, just as EU Council Donal Tusk warned in Strasbourg that another 3 million refugees could come from Syria if Bashar Al-Assad’s regime wins.

The “Action Plan” was agreed in principle by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his visit to Brussels on Monday.

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Next week, high-level talks will start between Turkey and the Commission to hammer out the details of the deal.

The plan offers Turkey financial assistance, on top of the €1 billion already committed, to “weaken the push factors” - bad conditions in refugee camps in the region forcing migrants and refugees to move towards Europe.

Under the plan the EU would assist Turkey to strengthen its capacity to combat migrant smuggling by reinforcing the Turkish Coast Guard’s interception capacity.

Commission sources say over the last nine months more than 350,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Syria, have left Turkey for Greece, and only 50,000 were stopped by Turkish border authorities.

The plan also foresees a liaison officer in Turkey for Frontex, the EU’s external border agency to exchange information on smugglers networks.

It lays out plans to organise joint return operations between Turkey and EU member states towards countries of origins of migrants who are not eligible for asylum.

On the other hand, the plan asks Turkey to register migrants, provide them with documents, and complete their asylum procedures.

It says priority will be given to the opening of the six refugee reception centers built with European co-funding.

It would also like to see Turkey implement policies that will help refugees integrate into Turkish society. This includes access to work, education, and public services.

The plan asks Turkey to smoothly readmit irregular migrants who don’t need international protection and who were caught in neighboring Greece, Bulgaria or further north, Romania.

It promises to accelerate the visa liberalisation for Turkey, once the plan is implemented.

The implementation will be monitored by the European Commission, along with EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini and the Turkish government.

The plan was unveiled as EU Council President Donald Tusk made a stark warning in the European Parliament on Tuesday.

“A potential victory of Assad’s regime, more likely today because of Iran’s and Russia’s engagement in Syria, will result in the next migratory wave. According to Turkish estimates, another 3 million potential refugees may come from Aleppo and its neighborhood,” the former Polish prime minister said in a speech.

“We finally have to understand it, today millions of potential refugees and migrants are dreaming about Europe, not only from Syria, but also from Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and other places, “ he added.

“For all refugees, easy access to Europe and lack of external borders have become, besides the wilkommenpolitik, a magnate attracting them to us, “ said Tusk criticizing Germany’s open door policy as an invitation to refugees and migrants.

He also stressed the need to protect the EU’s external border as a precondition for an “effective, humanitarian and safe migratory policy.”

“Let us have no illusions. Today, we have to count mainly on ourselves. The world around us doesn’t intend to help Europe. We are slowly becoming witnesses to the birth of a new form of political pressure, and some even call it a kind of a new hybrid war, in which migratory waves have become a tool, a weapon against neighbors. This requires particular sensitivity and responsibility on our side,” Tusk said.

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.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

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