Turkey, eight EU countries to meet to discuss Syrian refugees

Turkey, eight EU countries to meet to discuss Syrian refugees

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey, eight EU countries to meet to discuss Syrian refugees

AFP photo

Turkey and eight EU countries as well as the EU Commission will come together to discuss the Syrian refugee issue at a meeting on Dec. 17 in Brussels, where Ankara hopes to learn the number of refugees these countries will receive in the coming year. 

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and leaders from Germany, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Finland will come together at the Austrian Embassy on Dec. 17 with the participation of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Under the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this group of countries is considered like-minded because of their similar positions vis-a-vis the refugee issue. 

EU countries will also determine the number of refugees they would accept from Turkey legally, although the discussion within the organization has not yet produced a common position over a compulsory quota. 

The EU Commission has been trying to encourage EU countries to accept a substantial number of refugees in order to stop the illegal flow of migrants towards the European continent. In addition to the 28 bloc countries, the commission also requested the support of four non-EU Schengen countries, namely Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein, for this plan. 

The acceptance process of these refugees will be held upon the recommendations of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and is expected to begin in the first six months of 2016. To this end, a detailed plan will be established to determine the pace of refugee acceptance by EU countries. The plan can be suspended in the case of no substantial decrease in the number of refugees reaching EU countries through illegal ways. 

How will the 3 billion euros be used?

A deal reached earlier between Turkey and the EU suggested the latter would provided 3 billion euros to the Turkish government in a bid to share the burden of around 2.2 million Syrian refugees sheltered in the former’s territories.

In an interview with the Anadolu Agency on Dec. 16, Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır addressed the perception that the financial assistance to be provided by the EU will be spent on building new camps to keep all Syrians in Turkey. “There should not be such a perception. This is not true,” he said. “The 3 billion euros is for one year and will be used only for Syrians. We want to control where this money will be used. Talks are ongoing about it. The EU, on the other hand, is suggesting the establishment of a commission to decide together. But what we say is that they are our guests and therefore it’s us who should take decisions about them. We have a plan on how to use this money and we’ll soon disclose this,” he said.