Turkey, Greece aim to discourage illegal migration

Turkish prime minister says Turkey and Greece have common perspective on need to share burden of refugee crisis as two countries agree on framework to discourage illegal migration

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hold a joint press conference at the end of the Fourth Meeting of the High Level Cooperation Council in Izmir, Turkey, on March 08, 2016.

Turkey and Greece share a common perspective on the need to share the burden of the refugee crisis as the two countries have agreed on a framework to discourage illegal migration, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday.

"Turkey and Greece are giving a common answer to those in Europe who have the attitude that Greece and Turkey should deal with the crisis on their own," Davutoglu told reporters during a joint news conference with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras in Turkey’s Izmir Province on the Aegean coast.

Davutoglu said that the improved cooperation would “reduce the dramatic scenes seen in the Aegean Sea to a minimum, although Turkey and Greece have some differences in their opinions.

"The aim here is to discourage irregular migration and ... to recognise those Syrians in our camps who the EU will accept - though we will not force anyone to go against their will - on legal routes," he said.

According to the latest report released by the International Organization of Migration (IOM), more than 141,000 refugees have reached Europe by sea so far this year.

In addition, almost 132,000 refugees reached Greece across the Mediterranean between Jan.1 and March 7.

On Monday Turkey at a summit proposed to help the European Union control the influx of refugees with a plan that included faster membership talks, increased funding and speeding up proposed visa-free travel for its citizens.

At the emergency EU-Turkey summit, addressing Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War Two, Davutoglu presented new ideas that went beyond Ankara’s commitments thus far.

The statement prepared during the summit listed actions that both sides could take to end the refugee crisis.

Leaders from the EU welcomed the proposal requesting detailed work by officials in order to reach an ambitious package deal with Turkey for the summit scheduled on March 17-18.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the agreement with Turkey to take back refugees rejected by the EU would help reduce the “unbearable flow” of people streaming into the continent.

Tsipras said the agreement "sends a clear message to migrants coming from third countries, rather than countries at war, … that there is neither the political will nor the ability to cross to Europe."

"This is the reality we ought to sincerely convey to them in order to stop, to reduce this unbearable flow for our countries," the Greek leader added.

He said the two countries would step up efforts to tackle traffickers in the Aegean Sea and would not implement "some plan imposed on us by some of our partners. We're here to solve a problem that concerns us, our values, our civilization."

"We have decided to intensify our cooperation and to reaffirm the bilateral agreement. That is very important," he continued.

TRTWorld and agencies