Refugee crisis: Turkey seeks $3.3bn extra at EU talks

Turkish citizens to get visa-free travel to Schengen zone by June in return for cooperation on refugees, officials say.

    More than one million asylum seekers have arrived in Europe since the start of 2015. [Geert Vanden Wijngaert/EPA]
    More than one million asylum seekers have arrived in Europe since the start of 2015. [Geert Vanden Wijngaert/EPA]

    Turkey has asked for an additional $3.3bn from the European Union to help it check the flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea, according to reports.

    The country is due to receive $3.3bn until the end of 2018 to cover the costs of dealing with the refugees, but it has reportedly asked for double the amount.

    Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, said the request came at a summit in Brussels on Monday between Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish prime minister, and EU leaders.

    Under a draft proposal, Turkey and the EU could cooperate to end the flow of irregular refugees to Greek islands and start resettling Syrian refugees directly from Turkey to the EU.

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    In exchange for readmitting refugees from Greece to Turkey, Brussels will grant Turkish citizens the right to travel throughout the EU's Schengen zone without a visa latest by end of June 2016.

    The Turkish government is also trying to secure the country's EU membership.

    "Turkey is ready to work with the EU, and Turkey is ready to be a member of the EU as well," Davutoglu said before the summit.

    He expressed hope that the talks "will be a success story and a turning point in our relations".

    Temporary home

    Turkey is a temporary home to an estimated 2.75 million refugees, many from the conflict in Syria.

    It is also a transit country for waves of people heading to Europe from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    "We are not sending them. They are going [to Greece] by sea and many of them are dying," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, said, criticising the EU for its reluctance to take in more refugees as well as its demands on Turkey to halt the flow of people.

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    "We have rescued close to 100,000 from the sea. Others are puncturing their boats and causing their deaths."

    On Sunday, at least 25 people drowned off the Turkish coast while trying to reach Greece.

    The Greek coastguard launched a search-and-rescue mission for people believed to be missing from the accident near the Turkish town of Didim.

    At least 15 people were rescued and brought to land in the care of emergency aid workers.

    About 13,000 people are living in precarious conditions in Greece as they wait for authorities to let them into Macedonia so they can move towards Western Europe.

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says a humanitarian crisis is quickly unfolding at the border, with refugees living in makeshift camps and in the open, as authorities allow only 250 a day to pass through.

    More than one million asylum seekers have arrived in Europe since the start of 2015 - the majority fleeing the war in Syria - with nearly 4,000 dying while crossing the Mediterranean.


    SOURCE: Agencies


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