EU, Turkish leaders to meet on migration in Brussels
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) shakes hands with European Council President Donald Tusk (R) at the G-20 Summit on Nov. 15, 2015. AA PhotoEuropean Union and Turkish leaders will meet in Brussels on Nov. 29 to discuss migration issues and how to improve relations between the EU and Ankara, the chairman of the summit and European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter on Nov. 23. “I call an EU-Turkey summit on Sunday 29 November at 16:00. Purpose: Re-energize our relations and stem migration flow,” Tusk said in his tweet. “My decision follows a positive recommendation by the [European] Commission and phone call this evening with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.”
The EU has sought Turkey’s cooperation to stem huge numbers of migrants escaping to the 28-nation bloc, as wars in Syria, Iraq and Africa have triggered an estimated 1 million refugees to seek a safer life in the EU this year.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 23, Davutoğlu’s office said the prime minister would attend the extraordinary summit with EU leaders on Nov. 29.
“Prime Minister Davutoğlu replied that he would be delighted to attend the summit,” Agence France-Press reported the PM’s office as saying in a statement.
Tusk, who chairs meetings of European Union leaders, agreed on Nov. 12 to hold a meeting in Brussels with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once an agreement on stemming migration flows was finalized.
EU offered Ankara 3 billion euros to help Turkey accommodate the more than 2 million Syrians it currently hosts. Of that, 500 million euros would come from the EU budget and the rest from the 28 member states according to their national incomes. Ankara, however, wanted to clarify the specifics of the EU grant before holding the summit.
Since the EU’s decision to hold a summit, negotiations have continued, officials and diplomats have said.
As part of these negotiations, Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, was in Turkey on Nov. 19 to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu as part of a continuation of the intense negotiations over the refugee action plan.
The meeting on Nov. 19 came just three days after the refugee issue was discussed by Erdoğan, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Tusk.
The EU expects a further 1.5 million migrants in 2016 and another half a million in 2017, totaling approximately 3 million refugees over a period of 3 years.
Refugees in Europe, however, are still dwarfed by the numbers taken in by Syria’s neighbors. Turkey hosts around 2.2 million migrants, Lebanon 1 million and Jordan around 600,000 Syrian migrants. Both Lebanon and Jordan together also host over 2 million Palestinian refugees.