EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday for a decisive summit to stop more refugees and migrants coming into Europe.
The controversial draft deal would see one Syrian refugee from Turkey resettled in the EU for every migrant Turkey takes back from Greece. The aim to discourage refugees to make the crossing to the Greek islands.
For Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, this would be a much needed solution.
‘I’m looking forward to a credible agreement today, in order to try to reduce or to stop the illegal flows from Turkey to the Greek islands,’ he told reporters outside the European Council building.
In return for its help, Turkey could be offered accelerated talks on EU membership and a lifting of visa restrictions,
Cyprus however says it would veto such a deal while Turkey refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
‘If Turkey will fulfill it’s obligations then there is no problem. But without it, we can do nothing’ said Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades.
Outside the European Council building, Amnesty International held a demonstration with banners urging ‘Don’t trade refugees.’ The human rights group says the ‘blanket return’ of refugees to Turkey is inhumane.
‘Something that I think many of us who stand for justice, freedom and dignity have been quite appalled by is the notion that for every Syrian that risks their life on an un-seaworthy boat – a lot of children, remember – to get to Greece, that only one resettlement place would then conditionally be offered to another Syrian. This is morally reprehensible: conditional humanity iss no humanity at all!’ said Amnesty International spokesperson Iverna McGowan.
EU leaders now have long negotiations ahead but say they are hopeful a deal can be struck.