EU leaders agree to hold summit with Turkey
EU leaders have agreed to hold a summit with Turkey before the end of this year, officials said Thursday, clearing the way for fresh talks aimed at securing Ankara’s help to resolve the migration crisis.
“It was decided that there will be a European Council with Turkey invited,” French President Francois Hollande told reporters after a meeting of EU leaders in the Maltese capital. “It could be held at the end of November or beginning of December.”
EU Council President Donald Tusk told a press conference it was “99 percent sure” the summit would take place by the end of this month.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he also asked member states to contribute 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) over two years to aid more than two million asylum seekers in Turkey, most of whom have fled the war in Syria.
He said the commission would contribute 500 million euros to achieve a total sum of three billion euros.
EU leaders are seeking to secure the help of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in curbing the flow of migrants into the European Union.
More than 650,000 of the 800,000 refugees who have reached European Union countries by sea this year have left from Turkey, which is home to some two million refugees from neighboring Syria and other countries in the region.
In return for its help, Turkey has demanded the EU provide three billion euros ($3.3 billion) a year in funding and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals. It also wants a resumption of negotiations on Turkey’s long-stalled application to join the 28-nation bloc.
Juncker said the goal of the summit would be to “conclude” negotiations with Turkey on a migration cooperation accord.
Just hours after an EU summit announced with great fanfare on October 16 it had reached a refugee cooperation deal with Turkey, Erdogan and other officials swiftly dampened expectations.
Erdogan urged Brussels to take Ankara’s 10-year bid for EU membership more seriously while his foreign minister Feridun Sinirlioglu heaped scorn on the EU’s proposals of financial help.