Brussels: Leaders from Europe said yesterday that they have reached the outlines for a possible deal with Turkey to return its refugees and are hopeful of a full agreement at a summit next week.
Ankara is also seeking refugee swap under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey in exchange for every Syrian refugee that Turkey takes back from the Greek islands. File pic
The proposals were outlined by Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu early yesterday and they aim at resettling one Syrian refugee in Europe for every Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands. Post the 12-hour talks in Brussels, Belgium, German chancellor Angela Merkel described the ‘one in, one out’ proposal as “a breakthrough” that would deter refugees from crossing the dangerous sea to Greece, adding that Europe needed more time to agree on the final details.
Turkey PM Ahmet Davutoglu
EU leaders will aim to seal the deal with Turkey at another summit on March 17-18. The Turkish proposals had been agreed upon with Merkel and the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, on the eve of the summit and were a surprise to other EU leaders. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the proposal to return all refugees crossing the Aegean Sea could provide the basis of a settlement to finally close the refugee trail through the Balkans. Meanwhile, human rights groups say returning asylum seekers to Turkey would be illegal, but the EU is desperate to reduce its flow of migrants and refugees coming to Europe.
Following the summit, the European Union chief, Donald Tusk, said, “The days of irregular migration to Europe are over”. Almost 3 million refugees are living in Turkey, while almost 363,000 Syrians have claimed asylum in Europe last year. Up to 2,000 refugees are arriving on Greek shores every day, many from Syria, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.