Turkey and the European Union could cooperate to end the flow of irregular migrants to Greek islands and start resettling Syrian refugees directly from Turkey to the EU under a draft agreement seen by Reuters on Monday.
Below is the text prepared during a summit in Brussels:
Turkey and the EU reaffirm their commitment to carry further their existing ties and solidarity and adopt results oriented action to prepare their common future. It is a firm commitment of Turkey and the European Union to end irregular migration to the EU. In view of the importance of overcoming the common challenges ahead and the progress so far in the implementation of the “EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan and its Annex” adopted by the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015 in Brussels and in further to provision therein;
1) Readmit expeditiously all irregular migrants crossing into the Greek islands from Turkey without prejudice to Turkey’s current commitments under international law. This readmission process will be for a temporary period and only for humanitarian purposes.
2) For that purpose, station, in agreement with the Government of Greece, adequate number of immigration and liaison officers in the established “Irregular Migration Monitoring Units” mainly in Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos to help facilitate processing of readmission cases.
3) Effectively implement all appropriate administrative and legal instruments to serve above stated purposes, including in the bilateral arrangements that will be put in place in agreement with the Government of Greece.
4) Effectively cooperate with the EU as well as the UNHCR to ensure expedited resettlement in spirit of burden sharing of Syrians to the EU member states, based on the formula of “for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states.”
5) Effectively implement projects, submitted by Turkey and decided upon by the Refugee Facility Steering Committee; and cooperate with the EU member states in any joint endeavor to establish humanitarian safe areas inside Syria.
6) Evacuate completely refugees from the Greek islands and readmit only those, who crossed into the islands after a date to be determined.
7) Cover the cost incurred [in the Readmission process.]
8) Referring to Point 5 of the EU-Turkey Statement of 29 November 2015, instead of October, Adopt and implement a relevant EU Council Regulation to realize the lifting of visa requirements for the Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone, by latest end of June 2016, based on an accelerated roadmap, dedicated support and in conjunction with the Readmission Agreement.
9) Effectively and expeditiously resettle Syrians from Turkey based on the formula referred to in Article 4 to balance on a monthly basis, and cooperate with Turkey in any joint endeavor to establish humanitarian safe areas inside Syria.
10) Prepare for the decision on the opening of new chapters.*
11) Expedite and facilitate the transfer and disbursement of the Refugee Facility for Syrians and decide upon an additional facility of Euro 3 billion until the end of 2018.
12) Review progress jointly with Turkey on monthly basis, including on mutually agreed appropriate locations.
*Reuters note: This refers to steps in the process of negotiating Turkish accession to the European Union.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)