Saturday, 24 August 2019

Sobotka: EU leaders nod to EU-Turkey deal on return of migrants

21 March 2016

Brussels, March 18 (CTK correspondents) - An agreement between the European Union and Ankara on the readmission of all migrants from Greek islands by Turkey has been approved by the presidents and prime ministers of the EU countries, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Twitter on Friday.

Soon afterwards, the deal was confirmed by the EU leaders and Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu at the current summit in Brussels.

"The agreement with Turkey has been approved. All illegal migrants who would reach Greece from Turkey as from March 20 will be returned," Sobotka wrote.

According to the agreement, all refugees who would reach Greek islands via the Aegean Sea should be returned to Turkey.

In exchange for each Syrian among the returned refugees, the EU would accept one Syrian citizen from Turkey in order to ease the humanitarian situation there. According to the deal, the EU would take over up to 72,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey.

Among the migrants admitted from Turkey, the EU would preferentially accept those who did not attempt to cross the Aegean Sea with the help of people smugglers or other illegal means.

"The deal with Turkey will not solve the whole migrant crisis, but it may stop illegal migration on the main route. The EU will have time to adopt further measures for the protection of its border," Sobotka said on Twitter.

The EU leaders agreed on the text of the deal a mere few dozens of minutes after it was submitted to them by European Council President Donald Tusk.

Tusk negotiated the draft with Davutoglu this morning. He said Davutoglu agrees with the text of the deal.

After the summit, Tusk told journalists that a real solution to the migrant crisis requires that the EU protects its external borders and renews the functioning of the Schengen area without checks at internal borders.

Davutoglu said he believes the deal will discourage migrants from seeking help of people smugglers on their way to Europe and support legal migration.

The readmission of migrants will be supervised by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the migrants must be assessed individually and based on European and international law.

The summit managed to overcome four main points of controversy on Friday. The biggest dispute developed about the Turkish demand that new chapters be opened in the EU accession negotiations, which was blocked by Cyprus. By the end of June, the chapter on financial and budgetary measures should be opened. No other chapters are mentioned in the deal.

The EU promised to create a list of projects that can be promptly supported within the aid of three billion euros agreed on in 2015. After this money is used up, the EU will provide aid of further three billion euros to Turkey by 2018.

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