Davu­to­glu to meet with ‘like-minded’ coun­tries

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Werner Fay­mann has in­vited the heads of state and govern­ment of ten mem­ber states to at­tend a meet­ing with Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu on Thurs­day, Fe­bru­ary 18, in Brus­sels, ac­cord­ing to EurAc­tiv.

Davu­to­glu will be in Brus­sels to fol­low-up on mu­tual com­mit­ments to a deal to stem the flow of refugees to Europe, cou­pled with a “reen­er­gis­ing” of EU-Turkey re­la­tions. EU lead­ers are in Brus­sels for a sum­mit on Thurs­day and Fri­day, which is mostly ded­i­cated to an agree­ment to ac­com­mo­date the UK ahead of the Brexit ref­er­en­dum, ex­pected in June.

This is the third time that Davu­to­glu is meet­ing with the so-called “like-minded coun­tries” which ap­pear to be ready to take refugees di­rectly from Turkey by plane. So far the lead­ers of Ger­many, Bel­gium, Lux­em­bourg, France, the Nether­lands, Swe­den and Greece have held two meet­ings in the Aus­trian Em­bassy, in the mar­gins of the last two EU sum­mits.

This time, Slove­nia, Fin­land, and Por­tu­gal will also join the dis­cus­sion, so the Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter will meet a to­tal of 11 mem­ber states. It is pos­si­ble, how­ever, that the premier of Swe­den will not be able to at­tend, an Aus­trian diplo­mat said. Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker and Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent Martin Schulz will also be present.

This will be the first oc­ca­sion for EU coun­tries to test the wa­ter since Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan threat­ened to send mil­lions of refugees to Europe by buses and planes.

On mi­gra­tion is­sues, EU coun­tries have split into two camps. Apart from the “like-minded”, Poland, the Czech Re­pub­lic, Slo­vakia and Hun­gary have been meet­ing in the for­mat of the Viseg­rad Group, or V4.

Czech Prime Min­is­ter Bo­huslav

Sobotka, who

holds

the ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency of the V4, ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion on Novem­ber 29, when the lead­ers of Ger­many, Aus­tria, Bel­gium, Lux­em­bourg, Fin­land, Swe­den, Greece and the Nether­lands first met sep­a­rately to dis­cuss mi­gra­tion.

But the divi­sions started ear­lier, when the Viseg­rad coun­tries de­cided to re­ject manda­tory quo­tas for tak­ing refugees, pro­posed by theCom­mis­sion. Since then, the four coun­tries have in­sisted that ef­forts should in­stead be di­rected to­ward strength­en­ing the EU’s ex­ter­nal bor­ders and stop­ping the flow of im­mi­grants from the Aegean Sea.

The Viseg­rad coun­tries and the “like-minded” coun­tries of Western Europe dif­fer on the very ba­sic con­cept of how bor­ders should be strength­ened. The V4 coun­tries be­lieve that walls and fences should stop the refugees, while Western mem­ber states seek to “slow” their ar­rival, be­ing pre­pared to pro­vide asy­lum for a lim­ited amount of time only to peo­ple flee­ing war zones.

The Viseg­rad coun­tries have made ou­ver­tures to Bul­garia, but it looks like Sofia prefers to ad­here to a com­mon EU po­si­tion on mi­gra­tion is­sues.

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