Ankara plans to finalize the resettlement deal with the EU at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on March 7, Turkey's EU Ambassador Selim Yenel told EU observer in an interview.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will meet with EU leaders there following the two parties having already agreed on an action plan that stipulates that Ankara will reduce the number of migrants coming to Greece in return for 3 billion euros.
Indicating that some EU leaders want to see migrant numbers go down under the first plan before they sign the second one, Yenel said: "The numbers are going down, not just because of the weather. … I know a lot of people in Europe want them to go down to zero. They won't go down to zero, but they will keep going down."
He said the migrant crisis had prompted a "reset" in long-stalled Turkey-EU relations, as the latter has promised to speed up Ankara's visa-free travel application and to open several new chapters in its EU accession process.
For him, Russian airstrikes in Syria have also given the EU and Turkey common cause.
Ankara constantly iterates that Russia's airstrikes are to bolster the Syrian regime and to keep Bashar Assad in power. Turkey, which is already sheltering 2.5 million Syrian refugees, has largely kept its gates closed in recent days as tens of thousands of refugees seek safety from Syrian and Russian assaults on opposition-held territory in northwestern Syria. Russian and Syrian forces had previously intensified their campaign on opposition-held areas around Aleppo that are still home to around 350,000 people, and aid workers have said the city – Syria's largest before the war – could soon fall.
Pressure to enforce the plan is growing as EU officials say thousands of refugees are still crossing the Aegean daily from Turkey after more than 1 million made the perilous journey last year, the greatest such movement in the bloc's history.
A meeting of the leaders of 11 EU countries with Turkey had been planned before the full summit on Thursday but was canceled after Davutoğlu pulled out following a bomb attack in Ankara.