Turkish PM heads to Brussels over refugee deal
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu headed to Brussels on Thursday to join a summit to discuss Turkey's proposals on the refugee and migrant crisis, Anadolu agency reported.
Speaking during a news conference before leaving for the summit, Davutoglu said that Turkey was exerting a diplomatic effort to stop human trafficking.
"We have submitted a clear and humanitarian offer to Europe [over the refugee deal], but Turkey will not be a transit country for human trafficking or a depot of refugees," Davutoglu said.
All 28 EU heads of government gathered in Brussels on 17-18 March to discuss how refugees and migrants entering Europe via Greece could be sent back to Turkey.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said Thursday that the EU would reach an agreement with Turkey.
"Commonsense will prevail; we will reach an agreement with Turkey about the return of migrants who have reached Europe," Schulz said.
The EU has already pledged three billion euros [$3.4 billion] to meet the needs of Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey along with visa liberalization and the acceleration of the candidate country's accession process.
In exchange, the EU expected Turkey to crack down on human smugglers and stem the flow of refugees coming into Europe via its neighbor Greece.
Turkey is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world and has spent more than seven billion euros [$7.7 billion] on meeting the needs of the refugees, according to European Commission figures released last year.
Under Turkey's proposal to the EU, the country wants the 28-nation bloc to "share the burden'' based on a formula of "for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states".
Ankara also wants visa liberalization by June, speeding up Turkey's accession talks, and additional three billion euros to meet the needs of Syrian refugees in the country.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea to reach Greece. This has placed a huge strain on the austerity-hit EU member and threatened the EU's internal open border system, as countries to the north of Greece impose frontier restrictions.