Turkey ‘is holding EU to ransom’ over immigration crisis
President demands £2.1bn a year for his help
TURKEY was last night accused of holding the European Union to ransom as the country warned that it would keep demanding billions every year for it to help stem the influx of migrants.
EU leaders signed off on a deal on Sunday to hand over 3billion euros (£2.1billion) and allow Turkey’s 75million citizens visa-free travel in Europe.
But last night it emerged that rather than being a one- off payment, Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan wants EU countries to stump up the same every year in return for it slowing the migrant flow.
David Cameron has agreed Britain will contribute at least £ 260million towards the first payment, but taxpayers could now face demands for more and more money.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: ‘ By demanding more money and threatening to flood the EU with more migrants, Erdogan is trying to hold us to ransom.
‘Britain shouldn’t pay this wannabe Islamist dictator a penny but instead take back control of our own borders by leaving the EU. I am increasingly suspicious of Turkish motivation in many areas and don’t wish to be involved in a political union of which Turkey will become a member.’
Turkey has been able to make its extraordinary list of demands as it is the main route for migrants into Europe. The Islamic country is currently home to more than 2million Syrian refugees.
At the Brussels summit on Sunday, EU leaders agreed to ‘re- energise’ talks on Turkey becoming a member and allow its citizens easier access to the border-free Schengen zone, of which Britain is not a member. The EU had planned to give 3billion euros over two years to improve conditions in refugee camps so people are less inclined to move to Europe. But after hard bargaining from the Turks, they signed up to the figure being only ‘an initial’ payment, with an agreement for it to be ‘reviewed in the light of the developing situation’.
In return, Turkey has claimed it will stop refugees illegally crossing into Europe via Greece and take back economic migrants who have had their asylum applications turned down in EU countries.
EU officials said 1.5million people have illegally come to Europe this year. Despite extracting such a high price for his co- operation, Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu has admitted the agreement is likely to end in failure even if his country fulfils all its agreed terms. ‘I wish to say to you, “yes, the number of the migrants will decline” but we cannot say this as we don’t know what will be going on in Syria,’ he told a press conference on Sunday night.
Experts last night stressed that the deal was unlikely to significantly slow the flow of migrants travelling to Europe.
‘What Europeans are asking of Turkey is unrealistic and unrealisable,’ said Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist from Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University. He added: ‘They must be dreaming. Nobody can prevent these migrants heading to Greece or to Bulgaria – because they have no future in their own country or in Turkey.’
Under pressure: Angela Merkel