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Disaster if EU-Turkey refugee talks fail: EU commissioner

26 February 2016 17:42



It would be a disaster for the European Union if its talks with Turkey on refugees fail to yield tangible results, the EU migration commissioner has warned.

“If there is no convergence and agreement on March 7, we will be led to disaster,” Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Friday during a conference in Delphi, central Greece.

“March 7 is the day that will decide everything,” he said, adding to his previous warnings that the crucial meeting between the EU and Turkey would be the last opportunity to save the 28-nation body’s migration system, which he said is on the verge of collapse.

The International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that more than 100,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy so far this year. More than a million also managed to reach Europe in 2015, creating the worst refugee crisis for Europe in decades.

The imminent summit between EU and Turkish officials is deemed as very critical, especially at a time when the EU is trying to pressure Ankara about stricter measures to curb the flow of refugees, who mainly come from war-torn Syria or Iraq.

The EU and Turkey signed a deal in November, whereby Ankara pledged to prevent refugees from daring the risky journeys across the Mediterranean in return for billions of euros in financial aid.

Avramopoulos warned Thursday about some “unilateral actions” taken by some EU members in the face of the unprecedented exodus.

The Greek diplomat said the introduction of tougher restrictions by EU governments to check the current flow has only exacerbated the problem, with thousands now stranded between countries up the route of the Balkans to the richer European states.

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