EU offers Turkey incentives to better tackle refugee crisis
The European Union is ready to offer Turkey new incentives to better tackle the Syria refugee crisis, including money, the easing of visa restrictions and better intelligence sharing.
The offer came in an action plan unveiled yesterday, which, in exchange, would see Turkey improve its asylum and documentation procedures and beef up border security.
Around two million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities.
The 'Draft Action Plan' was presented to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his two-day visit to Belgium and the EU, but has yet to be officially accepted by Turkey.
It doesn't address demands made by Erdogan earlier yesterday for Turkey's EU-membership process to move ahead more quickly. Nor does it directly address calls he made Monday for European backing for the creation of a safe haven and no-fly zone around Syria's northern border, which, he said, are key to ending the refugee crisis.
However, there could be some wiggle room in the EU pledge to provide assistance aimed at Syria refugees to ensure "the weakening of push factors forcing them to move towards Turkey".
Under the offer, Turkey would receive up to €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to help manage its refugee crisis, and EU funding to help build six reception centres for refugees in Turkey.