European Union leaders are hoping Turkey will step up to the mark at today’s summit in Brussels and hold back migrants trying to get to Europe.
The talks will include formalising the closure of the Balkans route out of Greece while pledging to help Athens and seeking assurances that Turkey will with NATO naval back-up, bar the sea to people smugglers.
A million people reached Europe through illegal routes in 2015, many fleeing economic and political turmoil in the Middle East, north Africa and Asia. Most of them came through Turkey, which borders Syria, Iran and Iraq.
Ankara is also being asked to take back migrants halted in its waters and those who reach Greek islands but fail to qualify for asylum.
But asking favours from a government that only two days ago sent in police to seize control of Zaman, Turkey’s top-selling opposition newspaper, does not sit well with several EU leaders. They are torn between anger at Ankara’s action and fear of derailing Turkish willingness to help with the migrant crisis.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz has declared his intention on social media to raise the issue of press freedom with Turkey’s prime minister.
The seizure of #Zaman is yet another blow to #pressfreedom in #Turkey. I intend to raise this issue on Monday
Ahmet_Davutoglu</a></p>— Martin Schulz (MartinSchulz) March 5, 2016
Within 48- hours of the paper being taken over by the authorities Zaman published an edition carrying pro-government articles….critics have described it now of merely being a propaganda publication.The government has called the paper’s seizure “legal and not political”.
Meanwhile one cartoonist tweeted his own take on the problem showing a Turkish journalist and a refugee both trying to get to Europe.
YARINA BAKIŞ (@rumuzlarla) March 6, 2016