Wednesday

27th Oct 2021

Turkish minister in Brussels to discuss new migrant deal

  • Turkey's foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is meeting EU commissioners in Brussels (Photo: Bled Strategic Forum)

Discussions for a new EU pact with Turkey to stem migration appear to be on the table, according to the Turkish government.

A Turkish government spokesperson on Wednesday (20 January), in an email, confirmed that the issue will be broached this week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Turkey's minister of foreign affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his deputy Faruk Kaymakcı are currently in Brussels.

On Thursday, they are scheduled to meet EU commissioners Margaritis Schinas, Ylva Johansson, and Olivér Várhelyi. A meeting is also planned with the EU's foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell.

"Turkish MFA and Deputy MFA are now in Brussels to have talks with the EU counterparts on a variety of issues including prospective update of EU-Turkey Statement," said the Turkish government spokesperson, when asked.

However, the European Commission has since denied it.

"There are no talks about any new EU Turkey Statement. The deal reached already still stands and is being implemented," said European Commission spokesperson, Peter Stano.

The initial pact had been agreed in March 2016 and aimed at stemming migration flows towards the Greek Aegean islands in return for €6bn of EU funds to help refugees in Turkey as well as other political concessions.

But Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also used it as leverage against a European Union that seeks to prevent any repeat of 2015, when some 1 million people arrived.

Erdoğan has made numerous threats to suspend it.

He followed through early last year, when he let thousands of people try to cross into Greece, sparking renewed tensions with the European Union and Athens.

Turkey is also refusing to accept any returns from Greek islands due to, what it says, are safety issues surrounding the spread of the pandemic.

For its part, the European Commission has argued that the EU-Turkey statement was working as designed, regardless of wider tensions with Cyprus and Greece and the jailing of journalists.

Those issues triggered targeted sanctions against Turkey, with the EU, in December, accusing Ankara of "unilateral actions and provocations" when it comes to gas-drilling off the Cypriot coast in Cypriot-claimed waters.

Erdoğan had also provoked outrage after he reopened part of the beachfront of Varosha in Cyprus, a resort town that was abandoned following Turkey's invasion in 1974.

With Turkey increasingly isolated, Erdoğan has now embarked on a charm offensive, hoping to renew strained relations with the EU and the new US administration under Joe Biden.

Earlier this week, Çavuşoğlu met Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas in Ankara.

In a statement, Maas said he had welcomed "signs of détente" from Turkey since the start of the year.

"The fact that Turkey and Greece have announced that they will resume exploratory talks on 25 January, which have been suspended since 2016, is an important first step," he added.

A meeting was also held earlier this month between Erdoğan and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The commission's spokesperson services would not comment on the content of the talks, referring instead to a vague tweet by von der Leyen.

Turkey snubs Greece on migrant returnees

The Greek government last week requested that the European Commission and EU border agency Frontex help return 1,450 failed asylum seekers to Turkey. Turkey has refused, citing the pandemic.

Opinion

Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep

Ultimately, the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, only unveiled in September, risks reinforcing bottlenecks and misery at the borders, should be thoroughly amended before final agreement.

Most lawmakers unhappy with lead MEP's asylum bill

Sweden's centre-right MEP Tomas Tobe is steering the core bill on migration and asylum through the European Parliament. But his draft proposal has been met with resistance from liberal left leaning MEPs, possibly creating another political deadlock.

EU states want more Belarus sanctions

EU heads of state and government on Friday, at a summit in Brussels, demanded more sanctions against Belarus "as a matter of urgency" and want the European Commission to tweak rules governing borders to tackle "state-sponsored smuggling".

Analysis

Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'

Last October, the European Commission gave an optimistic outlook on the adoption of its migration and asylum pact. EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said its pact on migration was lowering the landing gear - suggesting agreement was possible.

News in Brief

  1. US to add last three EU states to visa-waiver list
  2. German ministry gives thumbs up to Russian pipeline
  3. EU regulator foresees endless battles with Facebook
  4. UK fears three migrants drowned in Channel
  5. Israel joins EU science scheme, despite Palestine clause
  6. Upcoming flu season 'could be severe', EU agency warns
  7. Ukraine wins Dutch case on Crimea gold
  8. Most Poles want Warsaw to back down in EU dispute

Analysis

Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'

Last October, the European Commission gave an optimistic outlook on the adoption of its migration and asylum pact. EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said its pact on migration was lowering the landing gear - suggesting agreement was possible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Environment ministers continue dogfight on energy price hike
  2. Most lawmakers unhappy with lead MEP's asylum bill
  3. More transparency on EU media owners planned for 2022
  4. Europe's deadly border policies
  5. 'Brussels So White' needs action, not magical thinking
  6. How to break the political deadlock on migration
  7. Hedegaard on the hazards of stalling climate action
  8. Belarus exiles in EU fear regime-linked murderers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us