Source Pagina12.com.ar / The Dawn / November, 30, 2015-.
The European Union (EU) and Turkey signed an agreement in Brussels that forces Ankara to stop the advance of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East to Europe, in exchange for financial aid, more agile visas for Turkish people and the hope for a push to the candidacy of Turkey to the European bloc. “The EU agrees to grant, initially, 3 billion euros to alleviate the needs of 2.2 million Syrian refugees currently established in the Syrian territory”, said the final resolution that both sides signed at the end of the summit. The text also establishes that in mid-December the economic chapter of the process of Turkish accession to the EU will be opened, and visas for Turkish citizens will possibly be approved in October 2016.
In return, the EU and Turkey agreed to implement an action plan which will help to ‘organize migratory flows and curb irregular immigration’, the text continued. In particular, Turkey committed not only to stop the advance of the thousands of refugees coming mainly from the Middle East but also from Africa, in the southern borders of the EU, but also to receive those who are rejected in the admission process in Greece.
Until now, several European countries had expressed their reasons to hamper the entry of Turkey to the EU, which would become the first predominantly Muslim member State of the union. But the arrival this year of almost 900,000 refugees and immigrants from the Middle East and Africa to the EU, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration, and the unprecedented political crisis that this flow of people caused within the bloc, led several European leaders to rethink their relationship with Turkey, which constitutes the main entrance of newcomers to Europe. “It is clear that the European Union can not solve the immigration crisis alone, it is important to work closely with our partners”, said, during the summit, the prime minister of Estonia, Taavi Roivas.
For his part, the new Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, acknowledged that Turkey is a very important strategic partner for the EU, NATO member, so the commitment of Portugal is to be able to resolve this crisis. Tusk was a little more cautious and recalled that Turkey still has to make reforms to respect the highest standards of human rights and freedom of the press and implement the roadmap and the agreed parameters. Turkey must resolve the dispute with Greece over the divided island of Cyprus, change its refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide in the early twentieth century by its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, and modify various laws on minority rights, among other issues.