The EU has accepted slightly over 5,000 migrants from Turkey since a migrant deal was reached between Brussels and Ankara in March 2016.
As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet with the heads of EU institutions and EU member state leaders in Brussels from May 24-25 at the NATO Leaders' Summit, the effectiveness of the Turkish-EU migrant deal signed last year comes into question.
According to an article in Haber Turk daily yesterday, it was reported that the 28-nation bloc has so far accepted 5,180 Syrian migrants from Turkey. While the figure stood at 2,992 in early January, Brussels has accelerated the process over the course of recent months, accepting 2,188 migrants in the last four months alone.
While Germany has been the most generous among EU countries — accepting more than 1,500 migrants — the Netherlands came in second with 1,112 refugees.
The report contends that the acceleration of the process was caused by Ankara's statements which said that the Turkey-EU migrant deal may be unilaterally ended.
The EU reportedly wanted to ease tensions by accepting more migrants.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in March that the Turkish government may cancel the refugee deal with the EU. Also, Minister of EU Affairs Ömer Çelik suggested reconsidering the EU-Turkey refugee deal, especially part of the deal on refugees trying to enter Europe by land, saying: "Turkey has no obligation at this stage to continue the agreement since the EU has failed to comply with it."The March 2016 deal envisaged a "one-for-one" formula under which failed asylum-seekers in Europe would be returned to Turkey, while Syrian refugees would be resettled in EU states under a quota system.
Also, Brussels pledged to speed up Turkey's full EU membership bid by opening new chapters in the accession deal. While visa-liberalization for Turkish citizens was another pledge indicated under the March 2016 deal, the EU has failed to fulfill its part of the deal thus far.
The Turkish government is expected to present a new offer to Brussels in the coming months regarding visa-liberalization and acquis communautaire amid the EU's previous calls for Turkey to soften its counterterror laws in order to obtain visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.
The agreement, backed by tighter coast guard patrols of the Aegean Sea to stop the illegal smuggling of immigrants, led to a significant decline in the number of migrants risking their lives in a bid to reach Europe. The Aegean shores that were previously teeming with refugees waiting to board boats heading to the nearby Greek islands, are now calm, save for the occasional group of illegal immigrants.
The EU foresaw a
dmitting 72,000 refugees from Turkey in line with the agreement.
Despite the failure of keeping to the agreement on the part of the EU, figures show that the number of illegal immigrants who attempted to reach the Greek islands closest to the Turkish shores on dinghies has significantly dropped, with a decline of as much as 97 percent.
Turkey hosts 2,999,225 migrants according to data taken on May 4, 2017. The country has spent more than $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for migrants, leading all other host countries in this regard.
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