Cyprus Mail

EU and Turkey have struck plan to stem flow of migrants-newspaper (Update)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The European Commission and Turkey have agreed a plan to stem the flow of refugees to Europe by patrolling Turkey’s frontier with Greece and setting up new camps, a newspaper cited sources in the Commission and the German government as saying on Sunday.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said according to the plan, Turkey would be obliged to better protect the border that many migrants have crossed on perilous boat journeys to reach EU territory.

It said the Turkish and Greek coastguards would work together to patrol the eastern Aegean, coordinated by Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, and send all refugees back to Turkey.

In Turkey, six new refugee camps for up to two million people which would be set up, partly financed by the EU, the newspaper said.

The EU states would commit to taking some of the refugees so that up to half a million people could be relocated to Europe without having to use traffickers or take the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, the newspaper said.

However a senior EU official involved in the negotiations with Turkey told Reuters the newspaper report went beyond what was currently under discussion between Brussels and Ankara.

“It’s a bit exaggerated,” he said.

The official said EU officials had prepared proposals on how to manage migrant and refugee flows for discussion during Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Brussels on Monday and at a meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday of EU, Western Balkan and East Mediterranean countries.

The official said the EU was keen to help Turkey host more migrants and refugees on its own soil, to cooperate with Greece in preventing migrant flows across the Aegean and to build up Frontex and the EU’s refugee assistance agency.

EU leaders agreed at their emergency summit on Sept. 23 to make more funds available for such purposes. But it was not yet clear whether Erdogan would sign up to the Commission’s idea of an “action plan”, the official said.

He said establishing camps for up to two million people in Turkey was “not in line with what we have been discussing” but could not rule out that German officials had such ideas.

The newspaper report said the Commission and representatives had agreed on this plan last week and that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also coordinated on this with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

Erdogan is due to meet with Juncker on Monday.

A spokesman for the European Commission said the meeting was “precisely about seeing how to step up cooperation to jointly tackle the refugee crisis” and said any new announcements would be made at a news conference on Monday.

Asked about the newspaper report, a spokeswoman for the German government said Merkel, Juncker and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann had held a phone call on Wednesday but she declined to comment on the content of their discussion.

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