Erdoğan to hold talks with EU officials in bid to revise migrant deal
A migrant man covers his face as he walks near the Turkish-Greek border on March 8, 2020. (AP Photo)
Erdoğan is to meet with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg late March 9 in his Brussels program, after the Daily News went to print. He is to hold talks with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The summit came following rising tension at the Greek-Turkish land border after tens of thousands of migrants gathered there in hopes of crossing into the EU.
The EU made a deal with Turkey In 2016 and closed the so-called Balkan route, once considered the main pathway for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war in Syria.
In return, the EU offered Turkey 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) along with visa liberalization and upgrading the Customs Union agreement, opening new negotiation chapter incentives as part of the deal.
Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves. The Turkish government is complaining that the EU aid delivery to the refugees in Turkey is lagged, while Brussels say the total amount is contracted and is in the pipeline.
The EU has grown concerned after thousands of migrants flocked to Pazarkule, a border gate with Greece after Turkish officials announced on Feb. 28 they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe.
The announcement came after an attack by regime forces on Turkish troops in the Idlib de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, which killed 34 soldiers.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov failed on March 2 in his mediation efforts in a visit to Ankara which aimed to bring Greece, Turkey and EU leaders to a summit in Sofia to prevent a new refugee crisis in Europe.
The day after Borisov’s visit, Michel arrived in Turkey for discussions on the migrant issue and the idea of holding a meeting in Brussels emerged there, aiming to restore the migrant deal between Ankara and Brussels.