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Posts : 18370
Join date : 2015-05-20
Location : United States

Tricky talks with Erdogan in Brussels

on Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:06 am
The EU is turning to Turkey for help with the refugee crisis. The political price is likely to be high, though, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the opportunity for his own ends. Barbara Wesel reports.

The EU wants "an agreement of mutual trust, which is necessary given the central role Turkey plays in the refugee crisis." This was how an EU spokesman summarized the Europeans' aims in advance of the meeting.

Behind these words, in concrete terms, lies the hope that the Turkish and Greek navies will conduct joint border controls in the Aegean Sea; the hope that Turkey will pledge to set up more refugee camps within its borders, and take back any refugees who are apprehended. Essentially, the hope is that fleeing Syrians will be detained in the neighboring country instead of continuing their onward flight to Europe.

In order to achieve this, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pulled out all the stops. He referred to the many years of friendship between himself and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and even praised him as a promoter of the reform process in Turkey.

Juncker went so far as to say that he was "very much in favor" of bringing forward negotiations on visa-free tourism. This, however, is a decision that lies with the member states - Germany and France in particular. Juncker also wants to see Turkey on the list of safe third countries. No mention of human rights abuses or the fight against the Kurds, which has been revived recently. Such a categorization would, however, suit the EU, as it would then be able to send refugees back to Turkey.

Reproaching the Europeans..................

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