EU to hold migration summit with Turkey in early March

A migrant woman waits at the port of Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey. (AFP)

The EU and Turkey will hold a “special meeting” in early March to push forward an aid-for-cooperation deal to curb migrant flows to Europe, European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday.

“We agreed that our joint action plan with Turkey remains a priority and we must do all we can to succeed,” Tusk told a press conference after the first day of a European Union summit in Brussels.

“This is why we have the intention to organize a special meeting with Turkey in the beginning of March,” Tusk said without elaborating.

The meeting of the leaders of 11 EU countries with Turkey had been planned before the full summit on Thursday but was cancelled after Turkey’s premier Ahmet Davutoglu pulled out following a bomb attack in Ankara.

Pressure to enforce the action plan adopted in November is growing as EU officials say thousands of migrants are still crossing the Aegean daily from Turkey after more than one million made the perilous journey last year in the greatest such movement since World War II.

Speaking at the same press conference, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said: “This morning we confirmed there was no alternative to smart, intelligent cooperation with Turkey.”

Central EU countries said Wednesday they would push for further border restrictions in Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone unless they see results from Turkey.

A central European diplomat told journalists the number of asylum seekers arriving from Turkey needs to drop from as many as 2,000 a day to hundreds of people per day.

Juncker also said EU leaders unanimously opposed “unilateral actions” to resolve the migrant crisis after Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Wednesday the country would cap the daily number of asylum claims at 80.

European migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned in a letter to Mikl-Leitner that such plans would “be plainly incompatible” with EU law and Austria should reconsider them.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46