Merkel says EU countries should agree on refugee quotas

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says EU, Turkey deal should follow with member countries accepting quotas of refugees

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the lower house of parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2016

The EU-Turkey deal would need to be followed by an agreement by EU countries to accept quotas of refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, speaking in parliament on Wednesday.

She said that the closing of the refugee route through the Balkans that created a challenging situation for Greece and it should concern all of Europe.

“The situation in Greece is the other and it must be a big concern to us all because it is not without consequences for us all in Europe,” Merkel said.

The Chancellor also added that Turkey joining the EU is not on the agenda now.

"Negotiations with Turkey on EU membership are open-ended -they are really not on the agenda now," she said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and EU Council president Donald Tusk holding a press conference following a meeting at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara on March 15, 2016

EU leaders are attempting to work out details of the refugee accord with Turkey by the next scheduled summit on Thursday and Friday.

The 28-member bloc is divided on the agreement with Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu.

Davutoglu and European Union Council President, Donald Tusk, have agreed to stem the flow of refugees into Europe with tight controls.

Yet the Greek Cypriot administration said on Tuesday it could not consent to EU entering a new phase with Turkey in its bid to join the bloc, potentially scuppering an accord between the EU and Ankara designed to stem the influx of refugees into Europe.

The EU-Turkey deal includes membership talks, increased funding and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens by the end of June, earlier than it had been planned.

European Commission Vice President, Frans Timmermans, said on Wednesday that the bloc is not giving a “free ride” to Turkey with the deal.

Timmermans said that Turkey, for example, would need to carry out required measures by the end of April for visa-free travel rights by the end of June.

The planned deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees to Greek islands will be a "temporary and extraordinary measure," European Council President Donald Tusk has stressed in a note to EU leaders, Reuters reported.

A woman carries her baby as refugees disembark from a Frontex ship at the port of the northern island of Lesbos in Mytilene, Greece, February 20, 2016

Just over a million people have fled war in the Middle East and travelled to the EU in 2015, most taking a dangerous sea voyage from Turkey to Greece and heading north through the Balkans to Germany.

Turkey is a transit point for refugees aiming to reach European countries from Syria and Iraq because of its geography bridging the Middle East and Europe.

Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria following the escalation of the Syrian civil war in 2012.

One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts the most Syrian refugees in the world according to registration records of the United Nations.

Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion of its own resources on the refugees whose number in the country has been climbing to 2.7 million people.

TRTWorld and agencies