Germany’s Chancellor Merkel Supports Possible EU-Turkey Deal on Refugees

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel Supports Possible EU-Turkey Deal on Refugees
Fri Mar 18, 2016 14:39:13

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended a possible, yet controversial deal between the European Union (EU) and Turkey that is aimed at stemming the flow of refugees from Turkey into Europe.

During a summit in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders agreed on a unified stance to be presented to Turkey in upcoming negotiations on the possible deal later on Friday. The EU will want Ankara to take back all the refugees who enter Europe via Turkey in return for financial and political concessions.

Speaking after the summit, Merkel said the deal “will enable us to end irregular migration, so we can send the refugees back from the Greek islands into Turkey, and it is a good possibility in stopping smugglers and human traffickers.”

She also said the EU nations must be ready to start the implementation of the possible deal with Turkey “fairly quickly.”

“We did talk about this tonight. We will have to be seconded pretty quickly because we all know obviously that if the matters take too long, then it will indeed have this pull factor,” she said.

Merkel, however, said the talks with “Turkey won’t be very easy.”

“We did not set a date, but Turkey’s clear understanding is that within a few days of returns starting, the one-for-one resettlement (of refugees) should begin,” she added.

Last week, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said Ankara had requested an extra three billion euros (Some 3.3 billion dollars) in return.

European Council President Donald Tusk will begin the negotiations with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu later on Friday, before a meeting where all EU leaders will be present to finalize the deal.

The United Nations (UN) has criticized the draft deal, saying it could lead to the collective punishment of refugees.

Meanwhile, thousands of people also took to the streets in more than 50 cities in Spain on Wednesday to protest the possible deal. They said that it would be in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the Geneva Convention for refugees.

Addressing the concerns over the potential violations of the refugees’ rights, Merkel said in her Thursday remarks that the provisions of the deal will have to “take place on a very clear legal basis.”

An estimated 13,000 refugees are currently living in temporary shelters, which were designed to house only 2,000 or out in the open on the Greek-Macedonian border.

The refugees seek to travel from Macedonia through the Balkans to reach more prosperous countries in Western Europe.

The EU has moved to restrict its external borders, including in a visa-free travel zone, to stop the flow of the refugees.

According to a recent report by the European Commission’s bureau of statistics, the Eurostat, some 1,255,600 refugees reached Europe in 2015, with more than a third of them having gone to Germany. People from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan topped the Eurostat’s list of refugees.

Most of the refugees are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus of the refugees from their home countries, pointing to Western interference in the conflict zones for an increase in violence and the subsequent departure of more people.

Another measure previously adopted by the EU to address the influx was to relocate the refugees who are concentrated in some of its members states on their route to other members. The plan, however, was met with strong opposition from some members, including Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

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