The European Union is ready to offer Turkey new incentives to better tackle the Syria refugee crisis, including money, the easing of visa restrictions and better intelligence sharing. In exchange, Turkey would improve its asylum and documentation procedures and beef up border security.
Around 2 million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities.
It doesn’t address demands made by Turkish President Erdogan for Turkey’s EU membership process to move ahead more quickly.
Under the offer, Turkey would receive up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to help manage its refugee crisis, and EU funding to help build six reception centers for refugees in Turkey.
The EU is caught in a delicate balancing act, wanting to encourage Turkey to better control its borders amid continued criticism of the abuses of the Kurdish minority there and attacks on the media and justice system.
Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann arrived on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos with Greece’s prime minister to see the impact of the refugee crisis and to examine facilities set up to handle the thousands of people who arrive daily.
About 400,000 people have reached Greece so far this year, most in small overcrowded boats from the nearby Turkish coast. Most arrive on Lesbos.