Tuesday 20 February 2018

Leaders 'selling Europe's soul' for Turkish migrant deal

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Photo: REUTERS/President.ir/Handout via Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Photo: REUTERS/President.ir/Handout via Reuters

Matthew Holehouse

European leaders stand accused of "selling their soul" as they hope to secure a deal today with Turkey for the "large-scale" deportation of migrants.

EU prime ministers will push Turkish leader Ahmet Davutoglu to end the perilous migrant sea crossings to Greece and accept the removal of tens of thousands of refugees gathered in the country. Dimitris Avramapoulos, the EU's migration commissioner, warned that Greece, already struggling with a build-up of 30,000 migrants, was expected to receive "another 100,000" by the end of March.

In the past fortnight, the flow of migrants leaving Greece to head to northern Europe has fallen to just a few hundred a day due to the effective sealing of the Macedonian border.

Macedonia tightened the pressure on Greece yesterday by allowing only Iraqis and Syrians through its border if they are from a city considered to be at war, such as Aleppo.

Under a deal sketched out with Turkey last year, its accession process to the EU would be re-energised and €3bn in aid awarded in exchange for curbing the migrant flow.

But the Turkish authorities have launched a new assault on civil society, which saw a leading newspaper taken over by the authorities last week over a perceived anti-government bias.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European Parliament's liberal bloc, said: "We should not sell our soul for a deal with a country simply because we are incapable of dealing with our problems."


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