EU commissioner to visit Turkey for talks on renewing 2016 migrant deal

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EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will pay a visit to Turkey on May 7 to discuss the 2016 migrant agreement and visa liberalization dialogue as part of the deal.

“During the visit, all aspects of the 18 March Agreement will be discussed, in particular the Turkey-EU cooperation in the field of migration and visa liberalization dialogue,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry said on May 6.

Within the framework of the visit, Johansson will meet with Vice President Fuat Oktay, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

The 2016 deal envisages that Turkey prevents refugees and migrants from trying to reach Europe in exchange for refugee aid and other conditions. The EU offered Turkey 6 billion euros ($7.1 billion) to help Syrian refugees. However, only 3.6 billion euros were spent or could reach Syrians, and the bloc should further help Turkey, according to Turkish officials who have been urging Brussels to renew the deal for current conditions.

The agreement included six key points, including the reinvigoration of Ankara’s EU accession process, the modernization of their customs union, the revival of top-level dialogue, visa liberalization for Turkish nationals, cooperation in managing migration flows and counterterrorism. Ankara has long been asking the bloc for progress in these areas as well.

On visa liberalization, there are six remaining benchmarks, although the most important one concerns Turkey’s harmonization of its anti-terror legislation with that of the European Union.

In early April, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, paid a visit to Ankara to discuss the steps to be taken to realize a positive agenda in ties.

Following the talks in the capital Ankara, von der Leyen stated that they would soon present a proposal for the cooperation to support Turkey.

“The commission will soon make a proposal that reflects … principles” including better opportunities for refugees and a Turkish commitment to prevent irregular departures, she said. “I am very much committed to ensuring the continuity of European funding,” the official added.

Hurriyet Daily News

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