EU, Turkey Try to Hammer Out Migrant Crisis Plan

EU, Turkey Try to Hammer  Out Migrant Crisis PlanEU, Turkey Try to Hammer  Out Migrant Crisis Plan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top EU officials discussed a plan to tackle the spiraling migrant crisis during talks in Brussels on Monday, including a “safe zone” in northern Syria.

The European Union pushed Erdogan to do more to stop the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have landed on Europe’s shores from Turkey in the worst crisis of its kind since World War II.

“It is indisputable that Europe has to manage its borders better. We expect Turkey to do the same,” EU President Donald Tusk told reporters alongside Erdogan.

Tusk said that “according to Turkish estimates, another 3 million potential refugees may come from Aleppo and its neighborhood.”

Tusk added that “today millions of potential refugees and migrants are dreaming about Europe.”

But the Turkish leader insisted that his country was bearing the brunt of the problem, with around two million Syrian refugees on its territory, and pressed Brussels to do more to tackle “terrorism”.

  Crimes Against Germans

Erdogan’s visit came as it emerged that 630,000 people have entered the European Union illegally this year, many via Turkey, and that Germany–seen by most migrants as the preferred destination–could receive up to 1.5 million asylum seekers in 2015.

Amid mounting criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming stance towards the refugees, thousands took to the streets of the eastern city of Dresden late Monday, accusing her of “crimes against the German people” and “treason”.

“It won’t stop with 1.5 or two million,” said Lutz Bachmann, co-founder of the PEGIDA movement that organized the march.

“They will have their wives come, and one, two, three children. It is an impossible task to integrate these people,” he told the protesters.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said ahead of his meeting with Erdogan that “I will propose to my friend a common migration agenda; we will discuss this in detail.”

Brussels and Ankara were reportedly discussing a European Commission plan that would see Turkey join Greek coast guard patrols in the eastern Aegean, coordinated by EU border agency Frontex.

Any migrants picked up would be taken back to Turkey where six new camps for up to two million people would be built, co-financed by the EU.

  Narrow Chance

But chances of an immediate deal were slim, with the migrant crisis having further taxed relations between Erdogan and Brussels, long strained by EU criticisms over human rights and by tortuous negotiations on Turkey’s application for membership of the bloc.

European officials were also set to push Turkey to tackle people smugglers, a scourge that was once again in the spotlight after the Red Crescent said the bodies of 85 migrants had been found washed ashore in Libya.

In Greece, police arrested an Afghan smuggler accused of keeping 34 migrants, including 12 minors, locked up in an Athens apartment.

The migration crisis has reached such a scale that Germany could receive up to 1.5 million asylum seekers this year, according to newspaper Bild, quoting a confidential document with estimates far higher than official figures.

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said 630,000 people had entered the bloc illegally this year and called for 775 extra border guards to be deployed at the EU’s external borders.

The Czech Republic, meanwhile, announced that it would send “about 25 soldiers” to neighboring Hungary to help it protect the EU’s external frontiers.

Most of those seeking a better life in Europe are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa.