The Government Office’s Director for European Union Affairs Klen Jäärats confirmed in ETV’s “Välisilm” on Monday that the EU-Turkey refugee deal won’t affect the redistribution quota previously agreed on. Estonia could expect first arrivals in the next few weeks, Jäärats said.
According to Jäärats, the deal doesn’t change the fact that Estonia is still obliged to take in 550 applicants for asylum or protection.
The agreement between the European Union and Turkey states that for every Syrian refugee sent back, another would enter the EU legally. This “one in, one out” deal would only apply to Syrians, Jäärats said. Another agreement entering into force on Jul. 1, 2016, would then deal with people of other origins as well.
The system is supposed to ensure that the EU ends up receiving victims of the civil war in Syria, not third-state migrants.
Jäärats said that the overall objective of the agreement was to interrupt the movement of migrants by boat between the EU and Turkey. The structure of the deal was nothing new, and international organizations were familiar with it, so putting it into practice should be reasonably swift, Jäärats added.
About the government’s intention to send 20 officials of the Police and Border Guard Board to Greece to support local authorities, Jäärats said that these numbers could change.
Asked about Turkey’s reliability as a partner and its intentions to play by European rules, Jäärats said that the EU couldn’t ignore the matters of human rights and internal policy. In those areas, the EU was still waiting to see development. But these processes would take time, and it would be difficult to make sure reforms would last.
Jäärats pointed to the fact that 75 million Turkish citizens could soon travel to the EU without a visa as one of the motivators for Turkey to stick to the agreement and deal with the migration crisis in an honest way.
Relations between the European Union and Turkey have been difficult. Cyprus, an EU member state, has blocked Turkey’s EU membership talks for many years, and Turkish troops stationed in the north of the island remain a problem.
On top of Cyprus’ reluctance to let Turkey come closer to the EU politically, there are other concerns after Erdoğan’s government took over Zaman, Turkey’s biggest daily newspaper. The paper had been critical of Erdoğan and his party.
After Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi threatened to veto the deal over the matter of free media, a reference to media freedom was added to the final summit statement. But virtually while this was taking place, news arrived that the Turkish government had also seized the country’s Cihan news agency.
Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn