Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stunned his European counterparts by asking an extra 3 billion euros (3.30 billion U.S. dollars) from the EU in aid to help settle massive migrant flows.

immigrants
immigrants

Turkey has 2.7 million refugees and hundreds of thousands of more were waiting on the other side of the border, said Davutoglu.

The asylum seekers were mainly from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who were keen to cross the Turkish border for final settlement in Europe.

Brussels already promised to provide 3 billion euros to Ankara to tackle the migrant crisis last November. But the Turkish side complained ahead of the summit that the EU has not delivered the fund yet.

Davutoglu also proposed a refugee swap under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey in exchange for every Syrian that Turkey takes back from the Greek islands.

European officials were investigating whether a one-for-one resettlement program was “legally and logistically possible”, media reported.

“Many of them (refugees) are trying to go to Europe,” Davutoglu said. “Before coming here we worked on a new package of proposals…in order to discourage new refugees to cross Turkey.”

“With these new proposals we aim to rescue refugees, discourage those who misuse and exploit their situation and find a new era in Turkey-EU relations,” he added.

Turkey also wanted to speed up its accession process to the bloc. On his arrival Monday morning, Davutoglu told reporters that the summit could be a “turning point” for its membership bid.

“Turkey is ready to be a member of the EU as well,” he said.

Europe was experiencing the worst refugee crisis after the Second World War. Greece, a front line country in the crisis, was currently seeing some 2,000 refugees arriving on its shores each day.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a front-runner for a responsible Europe in face of the crisis, said EU leaders supported the basic outlines of the plan put forward by Davutoglu but more work was needed before a deal hopefully at the next EU summit on March 17-18.

Merkel said if Turkey made good on its offers, she would support bringing forward visa-free travel for Turks to the EU in June.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Monday that EU leaders are considering granting more money to Turkey to help stem migrant flows.

Tusk said those simply seeking a better life in Europe will see the road to Europe shut down for them.

“The days of irregular migration to Europe are over,” Tusk told a news conference following the EU-Turkey summit.

“Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu confirmed that Turkey will take back irregular migrants apprehended in Turkish waters,” he said. Endi

Source: Xinhua

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