EU – Turkey Summit: The goals of Athens and the six principles of the EU

EU – Turkey Summit: The goals of Athens and the six principles of the EU

Brussels, March 17, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Consultations are feverish in view of the critical Summit of the European Union with Turkey on the refugee issue.

The Greek government estimates, according to Olga Gerovasili, that a European decision for the effective management of the refugee crisis, on the basis of the guidelines set by the previous session, is still possible.

In the government’s agenda is to reach a credible agreement, which provides for the reduction of refugee flows, the neutralization of traffickers circuits, the increase of refugee migration rates from Greece to other European countries, and the implementation of the Izmir Agreement for the return of irregular migrants to Turkey.

To achieve these objectives the government is on constant consultations with the European institutions, the Dutch Presidency and most Member States.

On Wednesday, the European Commission presented the six principles on which the under formulation Agreement with Turkey will be legally compact, with first and foremost the point of the return of refugees to Turkey.

According to the announcement of the European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, the six principles are:

  1. Legal guarantees for the return of all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the Greek islands from Turkey.

2) Implementation of the resettlement program with the system one by one, ie for every Syrian citizen returning from the Greek islands, another will be resettled in the EU directly from Turkey.

  1. Speeding ​up the roadmap for the visa liberalization regime.
  2. Acceleration of the disbursement of funds under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.
  3. Accelerating the accession negotiations of Turkey to the European Union.
  4. Improving the humanitarian situation in Syria.

According to Timmermans, the decision is political and lies in the hands of European leaders, while as he noted, the key in legal terms for the Agreement to be feasible is the principle that any applicant for asylum will be examined separately with the guarantee that there will not be a possibility of a return.

“There shall be no group returns”, he assured.

“The goal is clear: an Agreement acceptable to all 28 member states, as well as our Turkish partners. The work is in progressing, but there is still much to be done”, said the European Council President Donald Tusk, in the invitation sent to 28 leaders for the summit.

He says that the list of issues to be solved, before an Agreement becomes possible, is “long”, and sets as a priority “to ensure that decisions will respect both the European and International Law”.

He also notes that there must be consideration how to prevent the emergence of new migratory paths by land and sea from Turkey to Europe and the ways on which Greece will rely on for the “application in practice” of the new return mechanism “by the European Office for Asylum and if necessary through direct assistance from Member States”.

In Brussels will be on Thursday the president of main opposition party Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who will attend the EPP summit and will meet with European leaders, to whom he will convey the totally unacceptable picture and situation in Idomeni.

Mitsotakis will insist in Brussels to support the national strategy as defined in the meeting of political leaders, which forms the framework of the mandate the prime minister, while he will stress that there is need for the European Council to reach a decision, because without a decision the current unacceptable and tragic situation in the refugee problem will be perpetuated for Greece and Europe.

Additionally, Mitsotakis will express his concern about the picture and the course of Europe right now, with injured cohesion, awkward and unable to provide effective solutions, but also his concern about the rise of extremist anti-European forces.