The EU-Turkey Summit on migration ended late on Monday with an agreement among the 28 EU member states that the flow of migrants from Turkey must be reduced and that Turkey’s demands in exchange for an agreement will be addressed at an EU Summit on March 17-18, also in Brussels.
“The results of the Summit cannot be described as anything else but a step forward,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in Belgium following the meeting, but noted the urgency of the matter. He noted that discussion moved from unilateral positions on shutting down the borders with Greece, thus trapping migrants in Greece, towards a “substantive solution to reduce flows from Turkey, in cooperation with Turkey.”
He said that Turkey came to the table with demands that could not be met directly but needed further discussions with EU member-states, as some of the benefits Turkey requested were “excessive”.
The present meeting he said would continue in Smyrna, where a “historic meeting” will be the venue for an updated agreement between Greece and Turkey that would oblige Ankara to receive all migrants who are returned after not qualifying for international protection. Such an agreement will “open the way towards dealing with human traffickers,” he noted.
“In this Summit, not only was Greece not isolated, but the countries that wanted to isolate Greece were themselves isolated,” he said, adding that the March 17-18 Summit would be crucial, as there was a lot of disagreement within the EU about the distribution of migrants among countries and their obligations to share the burden.
Turkey is asking for an initial funding of 3 billion euros for migrants, the speeding up of negotiations for its accession to the European Union and the lifting of visa requirements for Turkish nationals travelling to the EU by June. The EU leaders requested more time to consider them. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will discuss an agreement at the March Summit, European Council President Donald Tusk announced at a joint press conference with the Turkish leader.
At the press conference, Tusk said that “the days of irregular migration to Europe are over” and expressed the EU’s concern about Turkey’s jailing of opposition journalists and freedom of speech in the country.