‘Mutuality’ will seal EU-Turkey migrant deal

The EU-Turkey migrant draft deal touted last week as a breakthrough to settle the current refugee crisis faces difficulties, as some EU member states voiced resentment over Ankara’s demands, with Paris and Prague branding Turkey’s approach ‘Blackmail”.
EU and Turkish leaders had agreed on a tentative plan that would see new migrants landing in Greece sent back to Turkey. For each Syrian refugee returned, the EU would resettle one from a Turkish camp. This plan will effectively stem the influx of refugees as it gives a chance to them to get a legal resettlement in Europe instead of taking perilous journeys.
Ankara’s attaching other issues such as EU membership bid and easing of visa requirements in the passport-free Schengen area irritate both France and the Czech Republic that warned against attempts by Turkey to “blackmail” Europe, while Cyprus threatened to derail the draft deal over long-standing disagreements with Turkey.
Apparently, Nicosia and Ankara’s longstanding issues would make things rather difficult. Turkey does not recognise the Cypriot government and Nicosia has blocked six key chapters of Ankara’s negotiations for EU membership since 2009, effectively halting the process. Cyprus insists Turkey must first meet its longstanding demands for recognition, and to open up trade ties, ports and airports.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France will tell Turkey it wants “more efficient” cooperation on the migrant crisis, but will warn against any attempt at “blackmail”.
Even top United Nations officials on refugees and human rights group have expressed humanitarian concerns, questioning whether the plan would be legal. They feel it would be unfair to deport someone who fled from the war back to Turkey.
Czech President Milos Zeman’s statement on Tuesday that Ankara was seeking billions of euros more in EU aid, will not go down well with Turkey, whose support is instrumental to stop streaming of the refugees into Europe.
The refugee issue has triggered domestic rift in Germany, whose leader champions the Open Door Policy. Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies said they oppose visa waivers for Turks travelling to the European Union, complicating the German chancellor’s effort to secure an agreement with the Turkish government to stem the region’s refugee crisis.
Yet, despite these difficulties, Merkel and EU leadership would exert enormous efforts to see the deal endorsed in interest of both parties.
To play down the visa waiver for Turks, Merkel told the lawmakers that the visa waiver for Turkey had been agreed at the EU level, though not when it would kick in, and that it could be suspended at any time in case of security risks.
Despite internal challenge, Merkel’s policy retains the support of the majority of her caucus. This will give her a leverage to push for the endorsement of the draft deal at the EU summit.
EU president Donald Tusk’s warning on Tuesday that hard work lay ahead to finalise the deal, reflects some difficulties await the deal at the EU summit.
Without the deal, Ankara can turn a blind eye to the flow of refugees, which the EU could not cope with as the reality on the ground has already shown. Meanwhile, it is a historic moment for Turkey, to strike a deal which takes into account all its national interests, including but not limited to the EU membership and free visa to Turks.
Notwithstanding concerns of some EU member states, the draft deal will be endorsed since interests of both parties are addressed. It will further strengthen cooperation to resolve conflicts that cause displacements.

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