EU pressures Turkey to reduce refugee influx
The European Union says Turkey has to do more to reduce the influx of refugees into the continent, Press TV reported.
On Thursday, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which sets out the bloc's political direction, said it was up to Ankara to decide what extra action it could take to bring about the reduction.
Many in Europe favored a mechanism that would enable the asylum seekers' "fast and large-scale" return to Turkey, he said at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, suggesting that the country had better act promptly. It was only this method, he said, that would effectively "break the business model of the smugglers."
Tusk has traveled to Turkey from the Greek capital of Athens, where he had warned economic refugees that they would not be welcomed in Europe, saying they did not stand to much gain by reaching the continent.
"Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing," he said.
Tusk will stay on for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Teyyip Erdogan and is scheduled to meet with Davutoglu again next Monday at an emergency EU-Turkey summit dedicated to the issue of refugees.
The bloc has already offered Ankara three billion euros ($3.3 billion) so it can improve asylum seekers' living conditions. It has also pledged to rekindle the talks on the country's potential EU membership and accelerate visa-free travel across the bloc for Turkish nationals.
The promises reportedly came after a meeting among Tusk, Erdogan, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, where the Turkish head of state reportedly threatened to flood the continent with refugees.
"We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses" unless the country was offered financial assistance to help it deal with the asylum seekers, he had said, according to a leaked audio recording of the meeting.
Europe has been facing its biggest refugee inrush since World War II. The crisis, which has notably strained the continent's refugee resettlement policies, saw more than a million asylum seekers crossing onto its soil over the past year.
Most of the asylum seekers arrive in Europe after crossing the sea between Turkey and Greek islands.