Turkey receives EU-prepared plan to end refugee crisis

EU hands over Draft Action Plan to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeking ways to end refugee crisis with demands from both EU and Turkey

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker welcomes Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan (L) at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 5, 2015.

The European Union has announced on Monday that the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker handed over a Draft Action Plan to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday in Brussels on the refugee crisis management.

Underlining Turkey has spent more than €6.75 billion of its own resources on the refugees whose number has exceeded 2.2 million people, the Commission said in a statement released on its website that the main object is to assist Turkey in managing the situation of massive influx of refugees and preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU.

Juncker said the Draft Action Plan has been published on Wednesday after it was handed over to Erdogan.

“The EU stands ready to further step up help for Turkey to improve reception facilities for refugees and improve their wellbeing,” he said.

“In the refugee crisis, Turkey and the EU walk together and work together.”

Assisting Turkey up to €1 billion

According to the draft, European Union will mobilise up to  €1 billion to Turkey for the period 2015-16 in coping with the challenge represented by the presence of Syrian and Iraqi refugees who had to flee their home due to the conflicts in their countries.

The plan also requires to set up a joint working group to coordinate each other in order to cope with the crisis and ensure prompt return of the refugees who are not in need of international protection and apprehended by the law enforcement of the EU states or Turkey.

In addition, the action plan aims to take precautions in order to prevent more refugees from entering Turkey. However, the refugees who are not accepted by the EU or who reached the group in an illegal way will be sent back to Turkey.

The EU and Turkey will also step up the fight against criminal networks involved in the smuggling of migrants.

Turkey stands as the key country for the European states to solve the refugee influx and obviously the group will not be able to cope with the issue without the help of Turkey, as the EU Council President Donald Tusk said before.

“We [EU] have to cooperate with Turkey,” said Tusk.

“We have no other alternative.”

The EU block puts its demands and expectations on the table to bring a solution to the crisis which has been pushing its gates. However, Turkey, which has been struggling with the consequences of the refugee crisis, demands in return a full cooperation with the EU.

Turkey’s demands from the block

Turkey has been pushing for establishment of a no-fly zone and a safe haven in Syria near the Turkish border for Syrian refugees as thousands of civilians from the war-torn neighboring countries, especially from Syria continue to flee into Turkey to seek refuge from both Syrian regime and ISIS attacks.

On September 30, during a press conference in New York, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu cited recent discussions with the leaders of the US, the UK and France over the creation of a zone inside war-torn Syria to deal with the current refugee crisis.

"I am very pleased to observe that the three leaders see Turkey's demands on a safe zone as more than needed and right during our discussion both with Mr. Hollande, Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron," Davutoglu said.

"This demand is not related to Turkey's national interests but, rather, to preventing the spread of refugee problem while keeping the refugees in Syria and offering the best services [to them] in Syria, ensuring everyone remains in their homeland in the safe zone."

However, the Draft Action Plan between EU and Turkey does not consist of any article on a possible safe zone, raising the curiosity whether Turkey would accept such an action plan.

Mehmet Ugur Ekinci (SETA)


Speaking to TRTWORLD.COM, Mehmet Ugur Ekinci, an analysts of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) said both EU and US appeared cognitive for such a plan since such zones will keep Syrians inside their territory with a protected set of measures.

However, Ekinci has suspicions on implementing no-fly and safe zone inside Syria more than ever following the Russian intervention in the country.

“It has been much more complicated to take this into action since the Russian bombardment has started, so taking such a decision will be more complicated and involve more parties than before,” said Ekinci.

“I think the necessity of this has been much more in the eyes of US and EU governments.”

Turkey also expects the European Union members to extradite PKK members who live in various EU states. Although EU recognises PKK as a terrorist organisation, many EU states have been safe havens for the PKK terrorists.

Turkey has consistently asked European states for further measurements both to stop the flow of outlawed PKK members and their financial resources.

“Turkey is a NATO country so it has all these alliances with these European countries, so Turkey’s security is inherently a security matter for NATO” said Ekinci.

“So Turkey is only expecting more serious measures for its security issue the terrorism from its allies and there is nothing surprising about this.”

Ekinci also said there is almost nothing new on the Draft Action Plan except for the importance of a no-fly zone in Syria after Russian intervention.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced on Wednesday that President Erdogan recieved the action plan from the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and they agreed on setting up a joint working group.

However, the Ministry said in its website that there is no agreement reached yet and there will be more meetings on the plan in the following days.