Turkey awaits political demands before implementation of migration deal with EU

Turkey awaits political demands before implementation of migration deal with EU

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey awaits political demands before implementation of migration deal with EU

AFP photo

Turkey and European Union have agreed to a “draft” agreement on migrants which will be implemented only after Ankara’s political demands are met by Brussels, Turkish officials said.  

Turkey’s conditions, which the EU has agreed to in principle, include the opening of negotiation chapters, visa liberalization, the payment of 3 billion euros in financial support by the EU for migrants in Turkey and the invitation of Turkish leaders to EU summits, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.  

The deal comes ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Istanbul for talks with Turkish leaders on Oct. 18.

Turkey and EU has agreed on a “draft agreement” on a migrant action plan and the union will provide a 3 billion-euro financial package for an initial year, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu told reporters on Oct. 16. 

The minister identified the draft agreement as an “ad referendum” which is for further consideration by one having the authority to make a final decision.

Sinirlioğlu slammed the EU’s earlier proposal to give 500 million euros from pre-accession funds out of the budget allocated for Turkey, saying Ankara rejected the offer. The issue is not aid to Turkey but help Syrians, he said. 

“We have spent $8 billion [on refugees], and our gross national product is around $800 billion. Their [GNP] is $18 trillion. Three billion euro versus $18 trillion is funny, but it is much better than the 500 million that they had delivered.”

He also criticized the EU’s initial proposal on migration, saying it was too security-focused.

The EU has suddenly rediscovered Turkey, he added. 

Sinirlioğlu’s comments came after a high-ranking EU delegation, including EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, visited Turkey this week in search of a deal on the migrant issue.

Ad referendum to be implemented after demands met 

The draft text has been finalized, but the plan will be put into effect only after the EU meets Turkey’s conditions, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. 

The demands of Turkey are not written up in the text, but the parties have reached a consensus in principle, according to sources. 

The demands include the delivery of 3 billion euros in a financial package to Turkey. A working group will be established between Turkey and the EU to determine how to spend the money for refugees. 

A deal between Turkey and the EU regarding visa liberalization in return for a readmission agreement was earlier scheduled for October 2017. The EU will now bring plans for visa liberalization ahead as Turkey starts implementing the readmission agreement simultaneously, sources told the Daily News.

By that time, Turkey will not accept the return of thousands of migrants who traveled to the EU from Turkey, sources said.

Another condition laid out by Ankara is the opening of negotiation chapters with the EU. Turkey expects five chapters to be opened in the near future.

The last demand from Ankara is the invitation of Turkish leaders to EU summits, which was highlighted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

The EU’s offer to become involved in the border security of Turkey and return around 160,000 migrants, which were components of a previous migrant action plan proposed by the union, were eliminated in the last round of talks, sources said.