The migration summit which took place yesterday in Brussels between the 28 EU leaders and the Prime Minister of Turkey was a surprise. The reason is that Ahmet Davutoglou came to the meeting with specific proposals which are able to allow Turkey to take the upper hand and take advantage of the refugee crisis to better position its interests with the EU.
The Turkish Prime Minister asked for more European money together with faster visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and a boost of negotiations for EU membership. In return, Turkey will receive all refugees found in its waters and resettle one Syrian in Europe for every Syrian returned to Turkey from Greece.
What was not a surprise though is that despite the long talks to reach an agreement, this summit once more was inconclusive. The difference of views between the EU member states along with the need for further discussions on Turkish proposals are among the main reasons for not having a mutual agreement on the refugee crisis.
Turkey wants it all
Ahmet Davutoglu had planned his visit to Brussels very wisely and managed to impress everyone in the summit by putting new proposals on the table with the EU leaders. Having fully understood how difficult it is, not to say impossible, for Europe to unite and deal with this crisis, Turkey came out and asked for more responsibilities in this project.
First of all, an additional three billion euros are requested in order to provide better living standards for refugees who are currently in Turkey. Having already agreed to receive three billion euros in financial aid, the Turks are now asking to double this amount.
Secondly, Turkey demands visa liberation procedures to be concluded in June; earlier than it was agreed. It seems that the Turkish pressure to the European leaders has been effective, even though there are some countries that need more time to accept the terms of Turkey.
Thirdly, the long talks that the EU is undergoing with Turkey regarding the latter’s membership is again among the issues of the agenda. Turkey is willing now to reopen this matter with the excuse of the migration crisis. Turkey is persistently pressing the EU even if there are many still too many rules to be met for Turkey to become an EU member state.
EU to slow down refugee influx at all costs
The president of the European Parliament (EP) expressed the desperate need for measures to tackle refugee crisis which can be accomplished through a better relationship and cooperation with Turkey. More in detail, Martin Schulz mentioned during the meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister yesterday: “Relations with Turkey were, are and remain very difficult, but for the benefit of refugees we need to cooperate. The EU-Turkey partnership needed to be built on mutual trust and straight-taking.” Further, the president of the EP worries that the refugee crisis is at risk of becoming a humanitarian crisis and said that “this is why we should do all we can.”
The latter clearly show that Europe has reached a critical point where cannot deal with this crisis on its own any more and external help is mostly needed. That is why this summit was extended in order to give Ahmet Davutoglou the chance to express the Turkish points which are meant to help Europe tackle this crisis.
EU was never ready
The outcome of the summit revealed once more that there is a huge problem of division between several countries. On the one hand, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic are against the plan of receiving refugees directly from Turkey since they consider Turkey as an insecure country.
On the other hand, the Greek Prime Minister responded that a solution is absolutely vital otherwise the Balkan route must reopen. Alexis Tsipras also mentioned that it is hypocritical not to accept certain refugee nationalities and at the same time not sending them back to Turkey.
All in all, even if there was not any decision made during this extraordinary summit on migration, the EU leaders showed yesterday their clear will to provide the requested by Turkey additional financial aid of three billion euros.
Money can’t buy EU love
Nevertheless, it already costs a great amount of money for Europe to deal with this crisis and at the moment an extra hefty three billion euros sounds as the easiest solution since acceleration in the visa liberalisation or EU accession process seem much more difficult and are seen by the EU officials as diversified to the migration crisis issue.
Besides, it always feels better to spend another 3 billion euros to outsource the solution to your problem, rather accepting the fact that you are judged highly incapable and insufficient.