France to warn Turkey against ‘blackmailing’ EU in migrant crisis

France to warn Turkey against ‘blackmailing’ EU in migrant crisis

PARIS – Agence France-Presse
France to warn Turkey against ‘blackmailing’ EU in migrant crisis

AP photo

France will tell Turkey at a summit with the European Union this week it wants more effective cooperation with Ankara on the migrant crisis, but will warn against any attempt at “blackmail,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said March 15.

It is “essential” to work with Turkey, “but there must not be the slightest blackmail”, Valls told the French parliament.

In a summit with the European Union last week, Turkey asked for an extra three billion euros in aid in return for its cooperation in stemming the tide of refugees making their way to Europe.

That was on top of the three billion euros that the EU agreed to give Ankara in November last year to aid refugees on Turkish territory in return for Ankara’s cooperation in tackling the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Valls also told lawmakers that France will insist at the March 18 meeting in Brussels that it will not increase the number of refugees it is prepared to take beyond the current 30,000.

On the same day, the Czech Republic alleged that Turkey was “blackmailing” the EU with demands for extra cash to curb the flow of refugees and migrants to member state Greece.  

But European Parliament head Martin Schulz said last week that Ankara wanted an extra three billion euros.

“The EU’s original proposal to Turkey was for three billion euros, now Turkey is asking six billion euros and there is talk... of about up to 20 billion euros,” Czech President Milos Zeman said following talks with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Prague.

“Impolite people like myself call that blackmail,” the 71-year-old veteran left-winger told reporters.

Known for anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the outspoken Zeman dubbed the surge in refugee numbers “an organized invasion” of Europe and called for the deportation of economic migrants and suspected terrorists.

He also argued it was “practically impossible” to integrate Muslims into European society.

A million migrants arrived in Europe last year - most from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some 135,000 people have arrived in Greece from Turkey this year.