Turkey, EU agree on refugee plan amid expectations of leaders’ consent
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
AFP photoTurkey and the EU Commission have agreed on a refugee action plan that will include short- and medium-term measures following necessary approval by political leaders, a high-level EU official has said.
The initial agreement was secured during lengthy meetings conducted by EU Vice President Frans Timmermans and Turkish senior officials on Nov. 11 in Ankara as a result of nearly three months of negotiations.
Turkey and the EU have been engaged in detailed talks since September after European countries witnessed a massive increase in the number of immigrants coming from Syria and Iraq. The influx precipitated an intensified dialogue between Ankara and Brussels on a resolution to the issue through an action plan that was first drafted in early September but later amended upon Turkey’s request.
According to the official, as a result of comprehensive talks conducted between the two parties, a mechanism for its implementation in the short and medium term has been outlined. The blueprint must first be endorsed by the political leaders of EU countries, the official said.
Timmermans will present a report to the upcoming EU Council in December where unanimous approval will be sought.
Erdoğan to meet Juncker
At the same time, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker will discuss developments with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit to be held in the southern province of Antalya on Nov. 15 and 16.
Erdoğan and Juncker will also conduct talks over a potential Turkey-EU Summit that will be held in December where the refugee agreement will be the focal issue. Officials, however, said a decision to regularly invite Turkey to EU Council meetings should be given by EU leaders.
According to the plan, Turkey will continue to provide shelter to refugees on its territory but will receive financial assistance from the EU. The deal also envisages the revitalization of Turkey’s accession talks by opening more chapters and providing visa-free travel to Turkish citizens to the Schengen zone. In return, Turkey will start to implement a readmission agreement for migrants.