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EU presents Turkey with plan to stem flow of refugees

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Officials say Turkey expected to bolster border security while EU offers 1 billion euros in aid for refugees.

The EU presented Turkey with a plan Tuesday to halt the flow of refugees into Europe, officials said.

The proposal aims to keep refugees from Syria and other conflict zones within Turkey, offering 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) in humanitarian assistance for refugees hosted in the country.

Under the draft agreement, which will be further negotiated between EU and Turkish officials in Ankara this week, Turkey is expected to take measures to improve border security, namely increased cooperation with Bulgaria and Greece and the strengthening of the Turkish Coast Guard.

EU President Jean-Claude Juncker handed the plan to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Brussels.

Turkish diplomatic sources working closely on the issue told Anadolu Agency that discussions between Erdogan and EU leaders covered a political solution to the Syrian conflict and a buffer zone inside Syria to host refugees.

Turkey, which hosts 2.2 million refugees, is keen to establish a safe area for refugees to live inside Syria.

The Turkish officials welcomed the EU’s readiness to take action but emphasized that financial aid from the EU was not the main issue.

“We have already devotedly been helping Syrian refugees for years with or without the help from the EU – we will continue to do so as a humanitarian duty,” a Turkish official said under condition of anonymity.

The EU also offered to take in Syrian refugees from Turkey but no concrete plan has been formed due to EU member states’ disagreement on settling refugees within the 28-nation bloc, the official added.

Also discussed was a possible visa liberalization process that would allow Turkish nationals to travel to the EU without a visa.

The EU expects Turkey to implement a number of reforms before this is put in place, including bolstering its own visa and residency rules.

Resource: Anadolu Agency, October 06, 2015

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