EU, Turkey agree on deal to return migrants to Turkey

By Amy R. Connolly  |  March 18, 2016 at 11:28 AM
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BRUSSELS, March 18 (UPI) -- European Union and Turkish leaders reached a landmark agreement Friday to stop the flow of migrants and send thousands back to Turkey in a last-ditch effort to resolve the largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II.

Leaders agreed on a "common position" proposal that would go into effect beginning Sunday. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signed off on the agreement, which includes a provision for the country to take back all migrants, including Syrian refugees, who entered Europe illegally.

Several heads of state, including Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Finnish Premier Juha Sipila, confirmed on Twitter the EU accepted the deal. Davutoglu is expected to join EU leaders at the summit to sign the deal.

"The agreement with Turkey has been approved. All illegal migrants who arrive in Greece from Turkey, starting with 12.6. they will be returned!," Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka tweeted.

The exact plans have not been made public yet, but several news agencies said the EU, in return, offered double the financial assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey to 6 billion euros, ($6.78 billion). Under the plan, European countries will reportedly take one Syrian refugee directly out of Turkey for every refugee returned from Greece.

Early Friday before the agreement, Davutoglu spoke to reporters before the meeting, saying "For us, for Turkey, [the] refugee issue is not an issue of bargaining, but an issue of values, all humanitarian values, as well as European values."

"Turkey has received 2.7 million refugees, without any significant assistance from anywhere," he said. "And today I also want to re-emphasize that Turkey will continue its policy to have this attitude of humanitarian perspective."

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