Europe

Migrant crisis: Turkey says no deal done on EU action plan

A woman holds her child wrapped in an emergency blanket shortly after arriving with other migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands have made the perilous journey from Turkey to the Greek islands

Turkish officials have stressed that a plan agreed by EU officials for joint action with Turkey on the migrant crisis has not been finalised.

The leaders agreed to speed up visa liberalisation talks for Turks if Turkey stems the influx.

They also promised to "re-energise" talks on Turkey joining the EU and to consider more aid.

However, Turkey's Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu said the agreement was still a draft.

He called the financial measures proposed by the EU "unacceptable", according to the AFP news agency.

Earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made scathing criticisms of Europe's reaction to the crisis.

"They announce they'll take in 30,000 to 40,000 refugees and then they are nominated for the Nobel for that. We are hosting two and a half million refugees but nobody cares," he said.

At Thursday's summit in Brussels, European leaders agreed to:

  • accelerate visa liberalisation for Turks wanting to visit the EU's borderless Schengen area - if Turkey complies with certain criteria
  • "re-energise" talks over Turkey joining the EU

Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far this year, many of them travelling from Turkey.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption"They were just in time, after this one last train might make it through here" - Damian Grammaticus in Botovo

Also on Friday, Hungary announced it intends to close its border with Croatia at midnight local time (22:00 GMT).

Hungary has been a major destination for migrants during the crisis, who often aim to continue on to Austria and Germany. Last month it sealed its border with Serbia.

Croatia said it would continue to transport migrants to the Hungarian border until midnight, after which it would start to direct them to the border with Slovenia.

"We are turning the route, the corridor, towards Slovenia," said Ranko Ostojic, Croatia's interior minister.

Croatia had not struck any agreement with Slovenia, according to Mr Ostojic. "This is (purely) a Croatian plan," he said.

Slovenia's interior minister, Vesna Gjorkos Znidar, said extra police had been deployed to the border with Croatia.

The country will keep accepting refugees as long as neighbouring Austria and Germany keep their borders open, Ms Znidar added.


Read more

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The pull of Europe: Five migrant stories

Merkel under pressure: Chancellor's migrant policy faces criticism at home

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Crisis in graphics: Migration numbers explained


Meanwhile, a migrant thought to be Afghan was shot dead by a Bulgarian border guard after entering the country from Turkey late on Thursday.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov left the Brussels talks on hearing the news.

At the talks German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU states were considering a Turkish request for €3bn (£2.2bn, $3.4bn) in aid.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said talks over the aid would continue with Turkish officials over the coming days.

Mrs Merkel will travel to Turkey at the weekend.

"There is still a huge amount to do," Mrs Merkel said. "But you cannot say that we've achieved nothing."

EU sources had said several countries were cautious about coming to an agreement with Turkey too quickly, including Greece, Cyprus and France.

Migrants arriving in Europe

593,432

migrants have arrived by sea in 2015, says IOM

3,103

migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean

  • 76% arrived in Greece via the eastern route

  • 70.1% of arrivals in Greece were from Syria

  • 10,043 migrants arriving in Italy were unaccompanied children

  • 710,000 migrants have crossed EU borders this year, according to Frontex figures

Reuters

Turkey is hosting some two million migrants, most of them fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria.

Turkey has called for the establishment of an international "safe zone" for refugees inside northern Syria - but Mr Tusk said Russia's involvement in Syria made the idea more difficult.

Also in Brussels, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he would present four main demands for change in the EU in November. It comes ahead of a promised referendum on the UK's membership of the EU in 2017.

Mr Tusk welcomed Mr Cameron's announcement, adding that the "real negotiations" could start after early November.