Turkey said Monday that it would do more than the European Union has asked of it to curb the flow of migrants across the Aegean Sea, but only in return for billions of dollars in aid and a new hearing on Turkish membership in the 28-nation group.
The proposal, which came at the beginning of a bargaining session in Brussels, caught E.U. negotiators by surprise, and what had been planned as a one-day session was prolonged.
The E.U. had hoped to pressure the government in Ankara into accepting a plan under which non-Syrian migrants who had reached Europe would be sent back to Turkey. The Turks clearly saw this as an opportunity to exert some leverage in response.
According to Human Rights Watch, Turkey does not provide adequate protection for refugees and has frequently sent asylum seekers back to Syria. Although it has ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention, Turkey is the only country in the world that recognizes refugee status only for citizens of certain countries. Among those in the current migration, only Syrians can claim such status.