The EU in turn will resettle thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey. In return for Turkey’s help the country has the chance of visa free travel for Turks to Europe by June and a speeding up of negotiations on EU membership.
“It was not only a success story because of the results, but also because of the methods: we shared our views, we shared our concerns, we shared our perspectives and vision.” Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, said, “And we today realise, that Turkey and the EU have the same destiny, the same challenges and the same future.”
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, warned the implementation of the plan would not be easy. “I don’t have any illusions with what we decided today, there will also be setbacks, because we have major logistic challenges to meet now,” she said.
After the agreement comes the reality of the EU’s deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants. Some 200 people, mostly Syrians were caught by the Turkish Coast Guard attempting the dangerous journey across the Aegean as the controversial deal came into force. As they were ushered into a registration centre in the coastal town of Dikili they had one request, ‘Let us out’.
It is hoped the agreement would deter migrants from taking the dangerous route. The struck deal means that migrants who arrive on Greek islands from the Turkish coast would be sent back to Turkey, while one Syrian already in the country would be resettled within the EU.
But with the route across the Aegean closed, it may just be a matter of time before another, more dangerous route opens.