Turkey, EU to talk over migrants, accession process

Turkey, EU to talk over migrants, accession process

Turkey, EU to talk over migrants, accession process

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The European Union will host Turkey to discuss the country’s ongoing candidacy process in a summit on Nov. 29, where a solution to the migrant influx from Turkey to the EU will also be sought. 

The leaders of the EU member states had agreed in early November to hold summit with Turkey by the end of the month and European Council President Donald Tusk, the chairman of the summit, had said on Nov. 23 the summit would be held on Nov. 29 in Brussels. 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will attend the summit, while the leaders from the 28-member union will also attend the meeting. 

The EU announced on Nov. 24 that it would give Turkey 3 billion euros to ensure that the needs of refugees are met in the country, which currently hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees in the world with around 2.2 million. 

“In dealing with the refugee crisis, it is absolutely clear that the European Union needs to step up its cooperation with Turkey and Turkey with the European Union,” European Commission First-Vice President Frans Timmermans said in a statement on Nov. 24.
Grants and financial support from the Refugee Facility for Turkey will be provided as of Jan. 1, 2016, it added. 

The EU expects a total of 3 million migrants by the end of 2017, with an estimated 1 million refugees seeking a safer life in the EU this year, a further 1.5 million migrants in 2016 and another half a million in 2017.

Meanwhile, a European Union draft document, which is expected to be released after the Nov. 29 meeting, has set October 2016 as the target date for visa exemption for Turkish citizens, daily Hürriyet reported after seeing the document.

Turkey is scheduled to fully implement the readmission agreement with all EU member countries as of June 2016, which requires the country to recognize Greek Cyprus. Both Turkish diplomacy sources and EU authorities have said they aim for a solution on the divided Cyprus by spring next year.

Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır told Hürriyet that Turkey was capable of opening all EU accession chapters, with the exception of competition and public procurement, as long as the union was prepared. Bozkır added the remaining chapters could be opened if the Cyprus problem was solved.

Bozkır also said progress is expected on Turkey’s stalled bid to join the EU, with Chapter 17 of the accession process dealing with the economy and monetary policy due to be opened on Dec. 14-15. 

Hürriyet Daily News reported Nov. 25 that the independence of Turkey’s Central Bank, an important prerequisite in the harmonization process with European norms, will be the closing benchmark in EU accession talks.

European Commissioner Johannes Hahn had told Reuters in an interview on Nov. 18 that there was “new momentum in the EU-Turkey relationship.” 

On the same day when Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paid a visit to Turkey and held a meeting with his Turkish counterpart over the growing number of migrants crossing to Greece from Turkey for better life standards, both of the leaders agreed on more bilateral mechanisms between relevant ministries and the formation a working group to tackle the migrant crisis.

“This is not merely a problem of Turkey and Greece. Europe should take responsibility… We need to maintain settlement assurance to migrants,” Tsipras said on Nov. 18 in Ankara.

The Turkish Prime Ministry said the number of migrants saved after making failed attempts to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to 2014.

The number of migrants rose from 14,961 in 2014 to 79,489 in 2015, according to Prime Ministry figures.