Turkey’s EU minister discusses regional issues with Dutch FM
AMSTERDAMTurkey’s minister for European Union Affairs and the chief negotiator with the bloc, Volkan Bozkır, held talks with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders as the ministers of the bloc were in Amsterdam to attend an EU ministers meeting on April 11-12.
The two ministers discussed regional issues, namely the migrant crisis and counter-terrorism efforts, in Amsterdam on April 12.
“Met MFA Bert Koenders in Amsterdam. Discussed EU relations, counter-terrorism, irregular migration &visa,” tweeted Bozkır on his personal Twitter account on April 12.
In order to tackle the migrant influx, Europe’s largest since World War II, the EU and Turkey signed a deal in March, in which Turkey agreed to take all migrants who reached Greece after March 20 and whose asylum applications were rejected.
The return of migrants from Greece to Turkey started on April 4, while Turkey has also started sending Syrian refugees to the EU, under the scope of the same deal.
Bozkır also attended the EU Ministers Meeting in Amsterdam hosted by Netherlands, which currently holds the EU presidency until July.
Meanwhile, the EU said Greece’s plan to strengthen its borders to cope with the refugee emergency was not good enough and gave Athens two weeks to flesh out the details.
The European Commission said in a statement on April 12 that Greece needed to “provide the additional elements and clarifications by April 26.”
If Athens fails to do so, the commission is set to recommend that other countries be allowed to prolong their border controls, possibly until the end of the year.
Greece, on the other hand, said authorities would start ruling on asylum applications from hundreds of migrants in the next two weeks, in a major test of a new deal to try to control the flow of people desperate to reach Europe.
By the latest count, more than 50,000 people, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been stranded in Greece since Balkan countries closed their borders in February to migrants and refugees wanting to cross, mostly on the way to Germany.
Many of them are refugees from war, but others are economic migrants.
“The first results of the asylum applications will be ready in about 15 days and the next phase of the implementation of the agreement will begin,” Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili told reporters.