EU, Turkey seal migrant deal on 'historic day' for ties

EU, Turkey seal migrant deal on 'historic day' for ties

EU, Turkey seal migrant deal on historic day for ties

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) and European Council President Donald Tusk attend a news conference after a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on Nov 29. Reuters photo

Turkey will help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visa liberalization and renewed talks on joining the European Union in a Nov. 29 deal that the Turkish prime minister called a "new beginning."

Leaders of the 28 European Union states met Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu in Brussels on the evening of Nov. 29 to give their collective political blessing to an agreement hammered out by diplomats over the past few weeks.

Donald Tusk, the European Council president and the chairman of the summit, said a joint statement had been agreed, adding that the migration issue was the main reason of the summit.

“Our agreement sets out a clear plan for the timely re-establishment of order at our shared frontier,” said Tusk, adding that they expected a major step towards changing the rules of the game when it came to stemming the migration flow coming to the EU via Turkey.

“We will also step up our assistance to Syrian refugees in Turkey through a new Refugee Facility of 3 billion euros,” Tusk said, to which Davutoğlu said that the money was going to be spent on Syrian migrants and not on Turkey.

“The EU is committed to provide an initial 3 billion euro of additional resources. The need for and nature of this funding will be reviewed in the light of the developing situation,” read a part of the document released by the European Council on its website after the meeting for which the parties had agreed upon.

Stating that the heads of 28 member states and Turkey had agreed that the accession process need to be re-energized, Tusk announced an Intergovernmental Conference to be held for the opening of Chapter 17 on economic and monetary policy.

Speaking after the summit together with Tusk and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, Davutoğlu said that a summit would be held twice every year and Turkey's accession process to the EU would be accelerated.

“This is a historic day and a historic meeting. A summit has been held with Turkey after 11 years,” said Davutoğlu.

He added that calendar for a visa liberalization had been put forth.

The document released by the European Council on its website after the meeting stated that the European Commission would present the second progress report on the implementation by Turkey of the visa liberalization roadmap by early March 2016, so that the EU-Turkey readmission agreement would become fully applicable from June 2016 onwards. 

The Commission would then be able to present its third progress report in autumn 2016 with a view to the lifting of visa requirements for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone by October 2016.