‘Turkey leveraging refugees to get what it wants’

European Union leaders summit on migration in Brussels, Belgium, March 18, 2016 © Olivier Hoslet
We want to reduce the number of refugees entering Europe, not increase them, Franco Frattini, former Italian Foreign Minister, and current President of the Italian Society for International Organization, told RT.

RT: Who do you think will benefit more from the EU-Turkey deal on migrants, Ankara or Brussels?

Franco Frattini: First of all, we have seen insufficient results. I was from the very beginning very reluctant just to give money to Turkey, running the risk to have very little in return or nothing in return. Europe is usually divided on how to deal with the crisis of refugees and migrants. Turkey is very determined to get money, but so far we do not have a real concrete proposal for the repatriation of those that are not entitled to stay on the territory of the EU. So my answer, so far, is the Turkish authorities are getting much more than Europe is getting.

RT: Do you think the extra three billion euro for Turkey is enough to deal with the migrants, or might Ankara ask for even more in the future?

FF: Yes, Ankara is asking for money, but so far not a single euro has been disbursed from the European point of view. Also from the European side there is reluctance, there are different points of view. So my answer is: We should be at the same table to discuss a concrete proposal. The idea that Ankara would accept one refugee and another one will be sent back to Europe to be integrated. Frankly speaking, one by one is not a great advantage for Europe since thousands and thousands and thousands of people will anyway stay in Europe. What we want in Europe is to reduce the number of those that are refugees and migrants, not increase the number. And this is the situation.

RT: The Turkish Prime Minister claims Ankara simply wants to help Syrian refugees escape the horrors of war. Do you think this is Turkey's true goal?

FF: I think there is a problem here, because Turkey has been asking for a very long time a number of important results from Europe. First of all, a visa-free regime; secondly, a full cooperation on a number of negotiating chapters for the Turkish accession to the EU. And so far there were very poor results. But in a moment when Europe is living through difficult times and Turkey has a strong leverage on Europe, they are of course asking more and more and more while blocking their borders with Syria. So they, on the one hand, are blocking their border with Syria by stopping flows of refugees, on the other hand, they would like to send more and more refugees to Europe. And this is, frankly speaking, a behavior they should change as soon as possible.

RT: Could accusations that Turkey's military has committed atrocities and killed Kurdish civilians in the south east of the country affect its potential EU membership?

FF: Well, there was a very clear statement made by the Italian Prime Minister [Matteo] Renzi a few days ago while attending one of the European Councils talking about relations with Turkey. And our Prime Minister - even not talking about the attacks against Kurd communities – he mentioned another area, which is the freedom of the press and the fact that there are some journalists in jail in Turkey. The prime minister said: “We want to continue the negotiation with Turkey, but in full respect of fundamental rights that are the pillars of the European foundation. There cannot be a shortcut on the guarantees and protection of human rights.” He mentioned the freedom of the press. But even more important is to avoid causality for innocent civilians... I have to be very clear condemning strongly all the terrorist attacks against Ankara and other cities of Turkey.

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