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EU Summit: focused on migration crisis and Turkey’s involvement
The European press continues to widely report and comment on the two-day EU summit taking place in Brussels and being mainly focused on the migration issue. EU leaders are fine-tuning their strategy “step by step” and now plan on “stemming” the influx of refugees, says Les Echos, adding that because of its decisive location, Turkey is “at the heart of this strategy”, from the control of its border with Greece to its capacity to keep its 2 million Syrian refugees on its territory, as well as its commitment in the fight against Islamic State.
French President François Hollande highlighted the need to help non-EU countries, namely Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, cope with the refugee flow, a solution which is prevailing in Brussels so far, reports Arte. Dagens Nyheter and The INYT,among others quote German Chancellor Angela Merkel, underlining that Europe “cannot do this without Turkey.” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker underlined that talks between Ankara, First VP Timmermans and Commissioner Johannes Hahn went well, as reported in Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Along the same lines, Belgian media also quote the EC President, saying that “Turkey is the key to the solution for the refugee crisis. I expect Turkey will fulfil its commitments. I am very satisfied with the negotiations between Turkey and the EU on this matter”, said Mr Juncker. The Turkish press provides more nuanced reactions from the EC President regarding EU-Turkey talks, stating yesterday “there is a chance of success, but I cannot say anything certain for now.” The FT reports that officials have reached a provisional deal with Turkey, offering up to €3 billion of funding in return for clamping down on the flow of refugees to the EU while Publico says that EU leaders have only agreed on giving more money to Turkey to set the joint action plan to stop migration, leaving the country with thwarted expectations.
The Guardian provides further details, saying that Turkey will also be offered visa-free travel to Europe for 75 million Turks and the resumption of frozen negotiations on Turkey’s EU membership application, in exchange for Turkish support. Meanwhile, Ethnos reports that the first Greek hotspot for migrants and refugees will start operating on Lesbos by the end of the week, as Luxembourg Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn announced. Most of the media outlets say that the EC is increasingly annoyed by the fact that the EU member states are not honouring their promises of financial aid to international organisations, as say Arte and Le Figaro, among others.
Arte also provides several reactions of European leaders regarding the refugee crisis, such as Angela Merkel, stressing before the Bundestag yesterday morning that “Europe must show solidarity.” “The European Council’s credibility is at stake,” said the EC President, who stressed that “words must be followed through with action. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans statedthat “it is time the member states act do what they promised in September”, an opinion corroborated by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, reports Diaro Economico. Criticism of the EU’s migration policy is expressed. ARD says that one main problem in the refugee crisis is the difference in approaches and perceptions of the EU member states.
Some of the EU heads of state and government “simply try to ignore” the crisis; others seek solutions to keep refugees out of Europe. There is an “abyss”between words and deeds regarding the promises made by European leaders on 23 September, notes Le Figaro. Four weeks after the last EU Summit, the facts are “damning.” The leaders of several political parties in Europe, including Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front in France and Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, write a comment piece for The Wall Street Journal, stating that the current migration crisis is out of control and “this will be the end of the Continent as we know it”. “Mass immigration is leading to the dilution of cultural identity in the EU member states,” they warn. In a more nuanced opinion, Daniel Brössler and Thomas Kirchner report for Süddeutsche Zeitung that even though there is a lot of dissent between the EU member states, they are finally taking action on the EU’s external borders. They add however that the European states are reluctant to meet their financial commitments.
In a commentary for Il Sole 24 Ore, Adriana Cerretelli criticises the EU for being “forced to eat humble pie” by calling on Turkey to show the solidarity over migrants which the EU itself is “unable to express”internally. Turkey may get “unhoped-for revenge” for being overlooked in its bid for EU membership. President Erdogan intends to make the EU “pay very dearly” for solidarity over migrants, she adds. Along the same lines, ABC says that if the EU wants Ankara to take on the task of curbing the huge migrant influx, it will have to make crucial concessions regarding the country’s accession negotiation, which had been practically shelved on the European side.
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