EU-Turkey Migration Stand-Off: Ankara Hopes for New Refugee Deal by 26 March

Written by | Thursday, March 12th, 2020

The 2016 refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union needs to be updated, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said, expressing Ankara’s hopes to reach a new agreement in time for a summit of the bloc’s leaders later this month. In an interview published by the state-run Anadolu news agency on Tuesday (10 March), Cavusoglu also urged Brussels to deliver on visa liberalization and trade to keep the refugee deal in place, noting that Turkey is ready for “constructive work” towards a new migrant deal with the EU. “If we reach an agreement by March 26 when there will be an EU leaders’ summit, this issue will come on to the agenda of this meeting,” the minister said.
Cavusoglu spoke a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left meetings in Brussels with EU and NATO leaders without issuing a joint statement or appearing at scheduled a joint news conference. Following a meeting with the Turkish leader, EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said both sides were committed to preserving the 2016 migrant deal. Erdogan’s trip came as tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been trying to break through the land border between Turkey and Greece since the Turkish president announced last week his ‘We Opened the Doors’ to Europe policy. This new approach means that Ankara would no longer prevent people from trying to cross into the EU amid risk of new arrivals from conflict-torn Syria.
Turkey, which hosts approximately four million mostly Syrian refugees, has repeatedly complained about what it describes as unfair burden-sharing following a 2016 deal with the EU that pledged to provide billions of euros in return for Ankara’s help with halting the influx of refugees into Europe. While the land crossing on the Turkish side of the border with Greece remains open, Erdogan last week ordered Turkey’s coastguard to prevent risky Aegean Sea crossings after hundreds of refugees and migrants landed on Lesbos and four other Greek islands over the past week.

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