“Deal with Turkey approval. All illegal migrants who reach Greece from Turkey, starting from March 20, will be returned,” tweeted Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka during an ongoing summit.
The EU would also speed up its distribution of 3 billion euros (3.4 billion U.S. dollars) to Ankara, which it already promised to help address the migrant crisis in the country and further provide extra 3 billion euros by 2018 on the condition that Ankara would come up with relevant qualified projects, according to a leaked document on the outcome of the meeting obtained by media.
Regarding the opening of chapters in the accession process, which has been the most difficult issue, the solution is that chapter 33 (regarding budget), which is not under a Cypriot veto, will be open, the document said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu later joined the European leaders to strike the final decision.
On early Friday morning, Davutoglu held a quadrilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Leaders of the 28 countries spent Thursday on haggling over the proposal presented by Ankara on March 7 and reached an agreement on a common stance later in the evening.
Ankara proposed a refugee swap under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey in exchange for every Syrian that Turkey takes back from the Greek islands.
In exchange, it asked for extra financial aid up to 3 billion euros, speeding up its EU membership negotiation process and a more liberalized visa plan.
Cyprus was wary of Turkey’s membership bid and said that it would apply its veto right unless Ankara recognizes the country.
Despite various concerns from several member states, the EU pinned the hope on its agreement with Turkey in a bid to stem the unprecedented migrant flows in a short time.
Europe is experiencing the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War. More than 1 million people have traveled to the continent through various transit routes.
Turkey currently hosts 2.7 million refugees or migrants, mainly from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who were keen to cross the Turkish border for final settlement in Europe. Enditem