Turkey pledged to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for about US$3.2 billion in aid and other incentives from the European Union, under a deal struck on Sunday.
Following a meeting between EU leaders and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels, it was agreed that Turkey will be given 3 billion euros to help the nation cope with Syrian refugees.
Among other carrots offered to Ankara to encourage it to slow the flood of asylum seekers into Europe was a “re-energized” negotiating process on Turkish membership of the EU, Reuters reported.
Also, Turks could get visa-free travel facility to Europe’s Schengen zone within a year if the country meets conditions on tightening its borders.
The 3 billion cash aid is intended to raise the living standards of 2.2 million Syrians now in Turkey and encourage them to stay put rather than attempt perilous crossings to the EU via the Greek islands.
The money will be paid out in stages as conditions are met.
“As Turkey is making an effort to take in refugees — who will not come to Europe — it’s reasonable that Turkey receive help from Europe to accommodate those refugees,” French President Francois Hollande said.
He added that the deal should also make it easier to check migrants arriving and keep out those who pose a threat, like Islamic State militants who struck Paris two weeks ago.
“Today is a historic day in our accession process to the EU,” Davutoglu earlier told reporters. “I am grateful to all European leaders for this new beginning.”
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