Schulz: “For the benefit of refugees we need to cooperate with Turkey” 


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“For the benefit of refugees we need to cooperate with Turkey,” EP President Martin Schulz said following a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Monday 7 March. They discussed the refugee crisis, border controls, visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens as well as press freedom in Turkey, ahead of a meeting with the EU heads of state and thwe Turkish government in Brussels to discuss measures to stem the flow of migrants.

Following the meeting at the Parliament, Schulz briefly addressed journalists, telling them: “Relations with Turkey were, are and remain very difficult, but for the benefit of refugees we need to cooperate.” Schulz warned the refugee crisis was at risk of escalating into a humanitarian crisis: “This is why we should do all we can.”

During his meeting with Davutoğlu, Schulz also brought up Zaman, Turkey’s largest newspaper which was placed under state control on Friday following a court ruling: “I had a very open exchange with the Prime Minister, who disagreed with my point of view. I think this is not a surprise. I insisted that in the European Union freedom of the media is a key element of our European identity. The Prime Minister explained the case from his point of view.”

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (left) with Martin Schulz at the Parliament in Brussels  

Schulz  was also invited to participate in today’s meeting on migration. He said the EU-Turkey partnership needed to be built on mutual trust and straight-taking. He also stressed that they needed each other and that tackling smugglers and illegal immigration networks should be a priority for both the EU and Turkey. Click on the video above for more information.   

The President addressed journalists in the Council building ahead of today’s meeting on migration. He said solutions were urgently needed to help refugees in genuine need of protection. Click on the video for more information.

Turkey is currently hosting over 2.5 million registered Syrian refugees and most of the over one million migrants and refugees who reached the EU in 2015 came via Turkey. Two delegations of MEPs from the civil liberties and budgets committees travelled to Turkey on 8-11 February to assess the situation of refugees there.