Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders announced his intention to help find the 6 billion euros Turkey is asking from the European Union in order to seal the refugee deal.
Last Monday, the EU leaders decided to postpone the deal with Turkey until the European Summit of next week because of the additional conditions Turkey set on the table. Indeed, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked for double of the amount of money the EU agreed on, the lifting of the visa obligation, and the reopening of Turkey’s access to the EU negotiations.
While many criticize Turkey for its “blackmail move” and its anti-democratic behaviors, such as taking over the country’s largest opposition newspaper, the Belgian FM says we have no choice but to negotiate because Turkey is an essential partner in finding a peaceful solution in Syria and the only option the EU has to counter the migration crisis.
“Should we negotiate with Turkey? If I had to listen to the Belgian parliamentarians, I would be on holiday all year. I could not meet with Saudi Arabia, with some African countries or even less with Turkey. (…) We have to negotiate because we need to get Turkey on board for a peaceful solution in Syria and reach acceptable conditions to work with Turkey, which is hosting so many refugees. However, it is difficult, as Turkey tries to use its power position,” said the Belgian FM on March 10, at a conference on the European migration crisis.
When New Europe asked how far Belgium was ready to go into the negotiations with Turkey, Reynders said “The EU made an agreement of principle with Turkey so we now have to convince the other more reluctant European member states to make the effort to negotiate or otherwise accept financial repercussions resulting from the fact they won’t welcome refugees. After having spend two days in Ankara we can see limits in the possibilities since Turkey clearly is in a power position. (…) We will try to negotiate as far as possible but the problem is people have inflamed reactions without offering other solutions. If we don’t reach agreement with Turkey, and that is still possible, in a few months we will find ourselves in an even worse situation”.