Turkish-EU relations have been progressing through a new paradigm that focuses on Syrian migrants for a while. Although Europe has failed to find a solution to the migrant crisis and has adopted an extremely segregationist and rejectionist attitude, Turkey has opened its door to refugees and built high-standard refugee camps from the very beginning. Turkey wants the heavy financial burden, which is placed on it by the migrant crisis, to be shared. This brings a new dimension to Turkish-EU relations. Ankara wants financial aid from the EU and the EU wants to send some migrants back to Turkey in return for a visa-free travel opportunity for Turkish citizens in the Schengen area. All this is the background of the Turkey-EU summit that was held in Brussels on Monday.
It seems that EU members have agreed on providing 3 billion euros worth of financial aid to Ankara to be used to meet the needs of the more than 2 million refugees in the country. With such an item on our agenda, we accompanied Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on his visit to Brussels where we experienced a very cold and long day. Davutoğlu held talks with EU leaders and the heads of the union's institutions. As he put forward new suggestions, he demanded additional time for negotiations. Firstly, the Turkish delegation held talks with the leaders of EU member states and institutions, which held other meetings between each other later on. The talks continued between NATO members and ended with EU leaders assessing Turkey's suggestions. As soon as we arrived in Brussels on Sunday evening, Davutoğlu met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and a number of inter-committee meetings took place.
This time I found a very uneasy Europe that has come to a deadlock. When I was flicking between channels last night, I saw so much news about Turkey both on Flemish and French channels. A discussion program I saw on German Sat 1 was an interesting example showing how perceptions of Turkey are paralyzed. German Justice and Consumer Protection Minister Heiko Maas from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Australian Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz and a Slovakian minister joined the program, which was moderated by Anne Will. Participant journalists were wrathfully talking about Turkey, saying that the Turkish state kills nearly 160 Kurds every day and the Zaman daily, which they described as a normal newspaper, was closed. They asked ministers why they got in touch with Turkey on the pretext of migrants. They wanted a breakdown in relations with Turkey. I did not hear them say a word about the PKK, terror or the Gülenist network. It is important to be in Europe to understand how the anti-Turkey propaganda war has intensified. This propaganda is nourished by a strong PKK lobby and Gülenist media and nongovernmental organizations that are still active and strong in Europe. However, this great disinformation campaign found hardly any place in Brussels'sSchaerbeek neighborhood where Turks live. A large majority of people in the neighborhood ardently support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
This campaign did not affect Brussels's politicians much, either, as Davutoğlu and his delegation, who boarded the plane after nightlong meetings, said that they found a very positive Europe that well understood Turkey's significance. Actually, Turkey made a major move and became a game-changer, as European leaders have called the proposal. Turkey's suggestion stipulate that migrants who reach Europe through Turkey illegally will be sent back to Turkey, in return for which Europe will officially let in migrants from Turkey. This is a critical step that will prevent migrant deaths in seas and human trafficking. It is expected that the EU will provide Ankara with an additional 3 billion euros worth of fund for refugees by the end of 2018 and allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens as of June. In brief, the Brussels talks seem very positive. A final decision will be made on March 18.