Money talks in all languages. Just ask the European Union (EU). It has offered Turkey a plan under which it would resettle more refugees in an effort to help stem the Europe-bound migrant flow across the Mediterranean.
All it involves is the transfer of large amounts of cash in return for Ankara opening new refugee camps, securing its borders and boosting its coastguard.
Brussels is ready to give Turkey up to €1 billion over 24-months to deal with its load of 2.2 million refugees under a proposal European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker presented to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday. EU officials will visit Turkey today to finalise the deal and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos will travel there next week.
“It is clear that we need Turkey. The Commission will come to its aid,” Juncker told the European Parliament before publicly unveiling the proposals through the commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU.
The payment – in addition to around €6.2bn that Turkey is due for pre EU-accession funding – is needed because Turkey has consistently refused to do more to stop refugees heading for Europe on the basis that it just cannot afford to stop them. Now it has been offered the means – and as Turkey considers its next move there are people willing to make their own profit out of the misery of others as this tweet shows.
— Bassem (@BBassem7) September 27, 2015
The draft action plan initialled by Juncker includes proposals for the EU to:
- Provide €1bn (£0.74bn) for this year and next to help Turkey cope with refugees from Syria and Iraq
- Resettlement of some refugees already in Turkey
- Reinforce the Turkish coast guard to help it tackle smugglers
- Build on plans for lifting visa requirements for Turks travelling to the EU
In exchange, Turkey would undertake various measures including implementing asylum procedures and giving priority to “the opening of the six refugee reception centres built with the EU co-funding”.
The draft migrant document published on Tuesday does not address demands made by President Erdogan for the creation of a safe haven and no-fly zone around Syria’s northern border. Nor does it explicitly mention his calls for Turkey’s EU membership process to move ahead more quickly.
Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is sceptical, according to Reuters. He said his country would welcome a financial contribution from the EU to ease the strain of hosting migrants, but that funding would “not be a solution” to the crisis.
And UKIP MEP James Carver raised the absurdity of the plan today in the Strasbourg Parliament, where he questioned Turkish membership of the EU, given that the union doesn’t even recognise the country as a same place for migrants.
Ankara’s official response to the EU is expected to be announced later today.
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