World Bulletin / News Desk
Foreign ministers from across Europe gathered in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss the handling of the refugee crisis.
Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu and EU Minister Volkan Bozkir hosted the foreign ministers of the Netherlands, which holds the EU presidency, France, Slovakia and Portugal.
“EU-Turkey relations have gained a new momentum,” Cavusoglu said. “We are going through an intense process.”
Turkey and the EU have held three summits in recent last months.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said economic, energy, human rights, legal and foreign policies were among the topics discussed but the focus was on refugee issues.
“We have agreed we want to end the business of smugglers,” Koenders said.
He said that EU ministers arrived in Turkey after visiting Greece to see preparations to implement the refugee deal agreed between the EU and Turkey.
The agreement allows for the return of “irregular migrants” to Turkey from Greece in exchange for Syrian refugees to be relocated within the EU. The resettlement program began earlier this week.
“I think we had a good beginning to this arrangement and we are very pleased here today to be in Turkey to also discuss the issues of relocation, of resettlement and of also of finding a legal way to have Syrian citizens from Turkey coming into the European Union,” Koenders added.
“I want to underline the hospitality of the Turkish Republic and the Turkish people in hosting more than two million refugees.”
The EU-Turkey deal was agreed late last year after more than a million refugees reached the EU. It is designed to break human-smuggling gangs who have been trafficking refugees across the Aegean Sea, resulting in hundreds of deaths.Last Mod: 10 Nisan 2016, 09:26