EU’s Tusk to visit Turkey amid escalating migrant crisis
European Council President Donald Tusk. Reuters PhotoEuropean Council President Donald Tusk will pay an official visit to Turkey in the coming days as part of a regional tour which also covers Israel, Palestine and Cyprus, with a focus on the Syrian refugee crisis.
During his visit to Israel, Ramallah, Turkey and Cyprus from Sept. 8-11, Tusk will discuss regional issues and cooperation, including how to help manage the migration crisis, according to a statement on the European Council’s official webpage.
“The objectives of the visits will be to discuss how the EU can help prevent and fight illegal migration while protecting those in need and preventing further loss of life, stabilize the region and move forward with the Middle East peace process and reach a settlement to end the division of the island of Cyprus,” the European Council said.
“Instability in the Mediterranean region poses a serious threat for the whole of Europe. The European Council made it one of its priorities to ensure effective EU cooperation on security issues, such as terrorism and the management of migration flows,” it added, recalling that in June 2015, EU leaders agreed on a series of measures on migration covering the areas of relocation and resettlement, return and readmission and cooperation with third countries.
“We should accelerate the parts of the enlargement process related to immigration and asylum so that these countries have a better infrastructure for handling migration challenges. And there is a clear need to revitalize links with Turkey so that we are once again confident friends and partners on this and in other matters,” Tusk said last week, at the annual EU Ambassadors’ conference.
“Men, women and children are fleeing to our borders as a result of insecurity and economic decay in our immediate neighborhood and the countries in neighboring regions; Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on. Europe’s limited ability to stabilize the situation is not just a result of the shortcomings of the union’s neighborhood policy. The regions in question are facing unprecedented threats like the rise of ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL], which controls an area larger than the country of Britain on Turkey’s border. This needs to be a matter of reflection for the democracies of the West and the international community more generally,” he said.
Tusk is scheduled to hold talks in Turkey on Sept. 9-10, the state-run Anadolu Agency said, noting he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 9 and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Sept. 10 before visiting Cyprus on Sept. 11 to meet with Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı to discuss dialogue between the two communities. While in Turkey, Tusk will also visit a refugee camp, the agency said, without elaborating.