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Turkey-EU summit: toughened Turkish demands, decision delayed

The new “last chance summit” on migration had an ambitious programme, Le Monde writes, namely closing the Balkan route; ensuring Turkey’s support; providing more help to Greece; and restoring Schengen. While the negotiations were driven by interest politics, ARD highlights, the EU and Turkey ultimately postponed their decision on the migration crisis, Focus News Agency reports, and EU leaders now hope to reach a final decision on a new deal with Turkey at the upcoming European Council meeting scheduled for 17-18 March, Focus News Agency, La Stampa and say.

At Monday’s EU summit, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu actually looked “sure of victory,” Michael Stabenow notes in FAZ. In return for its cooperation, Ankara toughened its demands, European and international media widely report. Under new Turkish proposals, Ankara would step up its efforts to take back economic migrants who have arrived in the EU and allow the bloc to send back Syrian refugees. Turkey is in exchange demanding a doubling of EU assistance to €6 billion, an acceleration of the process for its EU membership, and visa-free access to the bloc for its citizens by the end of June. Turkey also wants EU backing for its call for a safe zone to be established in Syria where civilians can take refuge.

The EU seemed ready to concede a lot to Turkey, ARD notes; a comment confirmed by EU diplomats quoted by the WSJE stating that the bloc is taking the Turkish demands seriously. The new ambitious demands Turkey presented yesterday, a Kleine Zeitung editorial argues, shows how risky it is for Ms Merkel to bank on Turkey. According to Tageblatt correspondent Eric Bonse, whereas for most of the European heads of state and government the new Turkish demands came as a total surprise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel knew about them in advance. The Turkish demands, the INYT claims, laid bare the European Union’s weakening position and signaled that the difficulties of managing the crisis may only rise as the crisis continues.

According to a commentary inÖsterreich, a completely disunited and incapable of decision-making EU leadership found no solution to the asylum-related chaos. There was no agreement reached, Večer further reports, because the positions of the EU member states were allegedly too different; yet, the Slovenian newspaper adds, it is on the agreement with Turkey that the closure of the Balkan migration route depends. Several media, notably in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg, comment on Chancellor Merkel’s position, notably on the Balkan route. Ms Merkel is one of the few who clearly opposed the continued closing of the Balkan route

EC President Juncker, Luxembourgish media – and others – say, supported Angela Merkel on the Balkan route issue, and they both vetoed a blockade. Whether yesterday’s summit will prove to have risen to the challenge undoubtedly depends in part on the terms of the agreement that the EU and Turkey are hoping to produce, The Guardian argues; far more than that, it depends on its implementation. And since that implementation is in the hands of countries that mainly put self-interest and the fear of refugees above other considerations in 2015, it is hard to be optimistic this time, the British newspaper claims.

© europeanunion2016

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