German Chancellor Angela Merkel had hinted last week that the much-anticipated EU-Turkey summit was going to be more than a simple discussion about how Turkey was going to help curbing the flow of migrants to Europe.
In turn, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had publicly stated that what was going to be on the agenda was a series of issues that were of direct concern to Turkey itself and which included the country’s future in the European union, among other things.
And so it is.
Turkey offered to help Europe with its migrant crisis but asked in exchange additional financial support, quicker discussions about Turkey’s accession to the EU, and visa-free travel for its citizens without extra delay.
As Reuters reported, “Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told EU leaders Ankara was willing to take back all migrants coming from Turkey from a set date who are denied asylum in Europe, as well as those intercepted in its territorial waters.”
Furthermore, Reuters reported that “in response, the EU leaders were considering his request to double their funding until 2018 to help Syrian refugees stay in Turkey and take in one Syrian refugee directly from Turkey for each one Turkey takes back from Greece’s Aegean islands, overrun by migrants.”
One source said that Turkey was asking for 20 billion euros.
Reuters claimed that it had access to a draft document spelling out the deal between EU and Turkey, yet the summit has been extended to give the Turkish prime minister the opportunity “to present new ideas going beyond Ankara’s commitments so far.”
“It’s going to be a proper Turkish bazaar – first we will throw our hands up in the air expressing shock about Turkey’s demands. Then we’ll offer to meet a tiny, tiny, tiny part of what they want. And then we’ll see how the bargaining goes from there,” said one EU diplomat.
But there were also divisions among EU member states, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel “resisting a push for a public endorsement by the summit of border closures by Austria and Greece’s Balkan neighbors.”
EU leaders also expressed their concern to the Turkish prime minister about human rights after the Turkish government seized control of the top-selling daily Zaman because of its critical stance towards the current government.
But typical of European diplomacy, sources said there was care so Ankara would not be alienated in this critical moment. EU leaders also assured Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that they would provide additional help for migrants now stranded in Greece.