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EU calls for ‘responsible cooperation’ with Turkey over migration as bloc seeks to build relations with Ankara

EU calls for ‘responsible cooperation’ with Turkey over migration as bloc seeks to build relations with Ankara
Speaking after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said that the EU is ready to work with Turkey to address migration issues. 

Standing alongside Ursula von dear Leyen, the President of the European Commission, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after what the group described as a “marathon European Council” meeting, Michel made the outreach to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The bloc had been meeting to discuss, among other things, EU-Turkish relations, with the member states agreeing to offer a “positive agenda” with Turkey, working closer on economic, trade and migration matters. 

Michel declared that the EU would like to have “responsible cooperation,” addressing the issue of Syrian refugees crossing the border from Turkey into Greece and then travelling throughout Europe’s open borders. 

As Erdogan has sought to put pressure on Europe, there has been some concern that his government has willingly encouraged this type of behavior, further highlighting the issues on the continent. Turkey also currently plays an important military role in Libya, which has acted as a key crossing point for migrants trying to reach Europe. 

Michel has been attempting to open diplomatic channels with Turkey, having said at a press conference last week that “in order to solve and manage crises which we have disagreements on, we have to establish dialogue”. 

Ankara has claimed that it supports engaging in good-faith negotiations, resolving existing issues through international cooperation.

Turkey currently holds the largest refugee population in the world, with the government estimating that there are 2.23 million registered Syrians under Temporary Protection (SuTPs), who have been displaced by the civil war in their own country and might otherwise seek safety in EU nations. 

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In 2016, the EU and Turkey struck a deal as a statement of cooperation, agreeing how the two sides would control the movement of refugees and migrants from Turkey to Greece. The pact ultimately failed, with Turkey accusing Europe of not doing its fair share and of resettling only 25,000 Syrian refugees. 

In order for Turkey to continue working with the EU on this matter, Erdogan has demanded more financial support, arguing that the original €6 billion fund is dwarfed by the $30 billion Ankara has ended up spending. 

The EU and Turkey have been in a tense standoff in recent weeks, with some European nations demanding that the bloc impose sanctions on Ankara for its actions in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean and the decision to reopen the North Cypriot resort of Varosha. Erodgan has, so far, rejected the EU’s calls for him to back down and, instead, has become increasingly emboldened.

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