German Chancellor Angela Merkel said early Friday that European Union leaders have agreed to reduce financial assistance for helping Turkey get ready for possible EU membership due to that country’s violations of the rule of law and human rights.
But Merkel also stressed that she wants to keep talking to Turkey and said there is no consensus among leaders of the 28-member bloc to completely end membership talks with Turkey, which have been underway since 2005.
Speaking at a summit in Brussels, Merkel criticized the “absolutely unsatisfying human rights situation” in Turkey, but said she wanted to “avoid a showdown” and does not wish “to break bridges” with the NATO country.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proposed five measures to tackle migration and refugee flows effectively on a European level during his address at the two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday.
Tsipras spoke of the recent increase in refugee flows in the Aegean and stressed the need to strengthen the EU-Turkey deal with five additional measures that will address the problem in a comprehensive manner.
1. A European mechanism for resettlement of refugees from third countries to the EU with the operation of central asylum services in third countries.
2. A European mechanism for returns of refugees to countries of origin or transit
3. A funding mechanism for refugees in Turkey and examining possibilities to strengthen it
4. Implementation of the Readmission agreement signed by Turkey
5. A long-tern plan to improve living conditions in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh
He also said that Greece is the first country in Europe in the number of asylum applications compared to its population. Migration was also addressed by the prime ministers of Italy and Spain, Paolo Gentiloni and Mariano Rajoy.