Turkey yet to agree on EU migrant action plan: Foreign Ministry

Turkey yet to agree on EU migrant action plan: Foreign Ministry

Turkey yet to agree on EU migrant action plan: Foreign Ministry

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, left, is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. AP Photo

Ankara has confirmed that the European Union has proposed a plan to Turkey under which it would resettle more refugees, but made clear that it has yet to agree on a draft plan following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent meetings in Brussels.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the sides agreed during discussions to further advance relations between Turkey and the EU, as well as a joint working group between the two sides.

“Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, conveyed a draft action plan elaborated by the commission to the Turkish side during the discussions where the issue of mass migration was also taken up. In this context, it has been decided to establish a joint working group to deal with the migration issues between Turkey and the EU,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released late Oct. 6.

“The above-mentioned draft action plan will be dealt with by this working group. At this stage, there is no agreement on the EU draft which has not yet been discussed by both sides in a joint meeting,” the ministry said, concluding that Turkey and the EU Commission would have “comprehensive deliberations in the upcoming period on all issues” which were raised during Erdoğan’s visit.

Earlier on Oct. 6, Turkey’s economy minister said his full-membership candidate country would welcome a financial contribution from the European Union to ease the strain of taking in more than 2 million migrants, but that would “not be a solution” to the crisis.

“We would be pleased with financial aid by the EU but this is not the solution. The solution is making those people happy in places where they were born and have lived. There is a need to make the environment there livable for them as soon as possible,” Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci told reporters at a news conference at the conclusion of a meeting of trade ministers from the G-20 held in Istanbul. “We believe resolving the root causes of this problem will be more helpful,” he said.

In Brussels, EU officials said Brussels proposed the plan, which would require Ankara to establish new camps and boost its coastguard to slow the flow of people to Europe.

Brussels is also ready to give Turkey more money to deal with the burden of 2.2 million refugees under the plan Juncker presented to Erdoğan on Oct. 5.

EU officials will follow up with a visit to Turkey on Oct. 7 as they try to finalize the proposals, while Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos will travel there next week.

Under the “draft action plan,” the EU will offer Turkey a series of incentives in return for its help in tackling the worst crisis of its kind since World War II. Though the new plan contained no figures, the EU pledged to increase the numbers of refugees it resettles from Turkey. The new resettlement figures would add to the 22,504 Syrian refugees the EU agreed in July to take from camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.