After all, they talk to each other: The EU leaders received the Turkish President Erdogan for an interview. Differences in the interpretation of the refugee pact concluded in 2016 are now to be clarified by experts.
Brussels (dpa) - Despite the escalation on the Greek-Turkish border, the European Union tries to keep the refugee pact with Turkey alive.
The 2016 pact remains valid, and differences in implementation should be resolved by both sides in the next few days, said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and EU counselor Charles Michel after a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday evening.
The reason was the dispute over Erdogan's decision to stop refugees and migrants from entering the European Union. As a result, thousands of people came to the border with Greece. The Greek authorities prevented border crossings with water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades. The EU saw the Turkish approach as an attempted extortion.
Erdogan, on the other hand, accuses the EU of failing to transfer six billion euros as promised for refugees living in Turkey. Other agreements from 2016 were also not implemented, such as the abolition of the visa requirement for Turks in the EU and a deepening of the customs union on both sides.
Von der Leyen and Michel praised the two-hour conversation with Erdogan that the conversation channel remained open. "Today was a good start," said von der Leyen. As a result, Michel only presented the mandate to the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu to clarify the differences in the interpretation of the pact in the next few days.
EU circles said Erdogan had made no new demands in the conversation. He was only concerned with the incomplete payment of the aid, in his view. This can now be clarified at the expert level. The EU sees the course of the meeting as an indication that Erdogan wants to start a constructive discussion with the EU again.
CSU European politician Manfred Weber emphasized that the EU must send a clear message to Turkey: "If the border chaos resolves, then we can talk about a new deal," wrote the group leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament on Twitter. "If you want more, such as visa waivers, we want to talk about illegal gas drilling in Cypriot waters. If you want to talk about trade, we need to talk about the rule of law."
The FPD European politician Nicola Beer criticized that the EU was having trouble finding clear words to tell Turkey - "also because Erdogan caught the EU on its open flank". Because the EU had pushed a common stance on refugees for years. That was the only reason why Erdogan was able to ignite at the external border, "with the aim of blackmailing the EU". That should not be repeated.
"At the same time, the EU must not now water down its message," said Beer. "A new edition of the EU-Turkey deal must be unequivocal: Europe is helping to care for the refugees on Turkish soil, but there are no thumbscrews."