Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos announced on Tuesday morning that the meeting of EU heads of state and government with Turkey ended in a declaration authorizing European Council President Donald Tusk to negotiate the decisions of next week’s Council.
According to Ciolos, the initial goal was just talking over a working lunch with the Turkish prime minister, but a subsequent meeting of European officials addressed an unexpected proposition by Turkey.
“This surprise proposition – I might call it that – was generally well received by the European heads of state and government, but owing to its substance, the conclusion was reached that a decision cannot be taken today, given the format of this meeting. (…) This proposition from Turkey, after talks with President Tusk, involves a commitment of Turkey to take back all the illegal migrants that cross the Turkish border with the EU, to Greece, that is, with the aim of returning to their countries of origin the migrants that do not come from Syria, and accept as asylum seekers only Syrians in camps in Turkey, under Turkey’s responsibility. Turkey asked the EU, for each illegal migrant who would have passed from Turkey to Greece, and who would be accepted by Turkey to return, Turkey send one legal migrant to the European Union,” the prime minister explained in a press conference.
The purpose of this mechanism, Ciolos detailed, is to stop or deter illegal migration from Turkey to the EU.
“In exchange, Turkey expects the EU – besides this legal readmission of some of the migrants – a more hefty financial support, on top of the three billion euros already promised. It also expects the speeding of the preparation for joining the EU, with a liberalization of the visa regime in an accelerated process. Initially, the liberalization of the visa regime was promised for this autumn. Turkey expects the process to be expedited, and to be carried out by end-June, while making possible the opening new negotiation chapters,” the premier declared.
He mentioned that talks so far concluded that the current format does not allow deciding on these propositions, but a declaration including them was drafted, which authorizes Tusk to negotiate and prepare a decision for the European Council scheduled next week. The document also includes some promises of support to Greece in managing the situation of migrants, through emergency humanitarian aid, more border control and support in returning to Turkey the migrants who do not need international protection.
The conclusion, said Ciolos, was that the migration route through the Balkans is practically interrupted and controlled, and implementing the mechanism to stop illegal migration from Turkey would avoid the opening of alternate migration paths.