EU-Turkey deal could curb refugee influx within one month

Dutch prime minister says deal between Turkey and European Union could help stop refugee influx within 3-4 weeks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and European Council President Donald Tusk attend a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, on March 15, 2016.

Updated Mar 18, 2016

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday that the EU has no way out but to sign a deal with Turkey in order to control the influx of refugees into Europe.

"What we clearly want is that the crossings stop because we are sending people back to Turkey. We expect that that would stop the crossings within three, four weeks," said Rutte.

Rutte said that halting the flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece and then up through the Balkans to northern Europe would make it possible to decrease the number of people leaving from Syria following that route.

"There is no alternative, we have to come to a deal," he added. "If not the situation in Greece will remain very serious, come to a crisis. It is crucial that we come to a deal now and tomorrow."

Under the proposed deal Turkey would take back all refugees arriving in the Greek islands. In exchange for every Syrian refugee sent back to Turkey from Greece, the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee direct from camps in Turkey.

The number of refugees fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has risen to more than 1.2 million since January 2015.