EU migration commissioner: Turkey is a key factor in solving refugee crisis
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMar 05, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 05, 2016 12:00 am
The European Union (EU) is not in a position to find an effective solution to the refugee crisis without cooperating with Turkey, said European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos in an interview with a German daily on Friday.Speaking to the German daily Die Welt, Avramopoulos said Greece has already seen some positive results from the refugee action plan made with Turkey, as Turkish coast guard officers have stopped roughly 300 refugees illegally trying to cross the Aegean Sea over the past couple of days. "This is a good sign," said Avramopoulos, adding that the EU is not in a position "to take the situation under control without cooperating with Turkey."The commissioner also commented on the recent NATO mission in the Aegean Sea. "The NATO mission will contribute [to efforts] significantly," he said, adding that "the NATO mission will be supported by Frontex and European border control units as well."
The EU seems to be following the policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said on Sunday that she has no "plan B" and will focus solely on the agreed-upon action plan with Turkey. Merkel dismissed accusations that her plan is failing, saying, "It is my damn duty to do everything I can so that Europe finds a collective way."
The refugee action plan between the EU and Turkey should enable Ankara to reduce the number of refugees flowing into Greece and the EU zone. In return, Turkey has been promised three billion euros in financial aid along with several concessions; including visa-free travel to the EU, by October 2016 at the earliest.
Turkey and Greece have been intensifying their cooperation in order to tackle the illegal migration crisis in the Aegean. In this regard, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are expected to hold a joint cabinet meeting on March 8 in the western Turkish province of İzmir. The joint cabinet meeting will come on the heels of a summit in Brussels, in which 28-member states along with Turkey will work toward an agreement on the refugee crisis. The future of the summit is not clear however, as Tsipras has threatened to block it. Last week, Greek newspapers reported that Tsipras has threatened to veto the text of the European Union Leaders' Summit if there is no clear commitment made to ensure that the northern border between Greece and Macedonia will not be closed – a move which is favored by at least five EU-member states.