BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Leaders of the European Union aim to sign an agreement with Turkey in Brussels on Sunday that offers Ankara cash and closer ties with the EU in return for Turkish help in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.
Here are some of the comments of the leaders:
“We need a comprehensive solution to the migrant crisis in Europe and obviously that involves Turkey. Britain will continue to play our role, which is about supporting Syrian refugees in the refugee camps and in Turkey.
“In terms of the discussions this afternoon, a lot of it will be about the Schengen no borders zone that we’re not a member of. Britain in the European Union will keep our border controls.”
“All modalities linked to the budget are to be discussed. There is a commitment from the EU institutions, the European Commission... The proposal is to consider these resources out of the Stability Pact, but it’s quite premature (to say that it will be agreed that way).”
“There has to be an agreement that allows us to implement an action plan between the European Union and Turkey so that refugees can be received in Turkey, nearer their countries of origin, so that Europe can help Turkey, so that Turkey can live up to its commitments and borders can be controlled.
“This is in everyone’s interest.”
“Today is a historic day in our accession process to the EU. Twenty nine heads of states and governments will be meeting and having a Turkish-EU summit.”
“It’s a very historic day to re-energize our accession process as well as discuss tensions, the latest developments in Europe and around Europe.”
“I am thankful to all European leaders for this new beginning.”
“My understanding is that a deal can and will be reached ... The feeling ... is that this can be concluded this evening.”
On Turkey-Russia tensions over Syria: “It’s an issue of enormous concern.”
“Turkey comes out of a long electoral transition. Now we have a government that is there to stay for some years and it is important for us to have a full-fledged dialogue with them on all the relevant issues.
“Migration and the refugee crisis is one but also others, including the revitalization of the accession talks... this comes together with new investments from the Turkish side in basic fundamentals like human rights, media freedom and, I would like to stress it in particular, the need to restart the peace process with the Kurdish.
“It is important to revitalize it and the European Union will give all the support to restart the peace process with the Kurds.
“From today onwards, we will also, I will personally, work on a high-level dialogue with Turkey comprising all the different and sometimes difficult issues we have on the table with them — all of them, none exclusions.”
On Russia-Turkey tensions over Syria: “...to make sure that this doesn’t affect the political perspectives we have finally found (on Syria)... It would be a terrible mistake if out of the tensions on the ground, that can be very high and very difficult to manage, we cancel or we downgrade the level of diplomatic and political engagement.”
“Approximately 1.5 million people have illegally entered the EU in 2015. Most have come through Turkey. Some seek shelter from war and persecution, others seek a better life and the few think to destroy our values.”
“We expect to see an immediate and substantial reduction of irregular migrants arriving to Europe.”
“We have reached an agreement which I hope will be accepted.
“This summit is about wider dimensions, namely re-energizing our relations with Turkey including the accession process.
“Let us not us not be naive though. Turkey is not the only key to resolving the migration crisis. The important one is our responsibility and duty to protect our external border. We cannot outsource this obligation to any third country.
“Without control on our external borders, Schengen will become history.”
“Recent developments have underlined that the issue of taking coordinated actions in Syria remains a priority.”
“We will agree on the EU Turkey action plan today.
“This plan will make clear that we have to work together more closely with Turkey for a number of reasons – just think of the civil war in Syria, the fight against Islamic State or the illegal migration.
“One main part of this EU-Turkey action plan will be how we can replace illegal migration by legal migration, how we can improve the situation of refugees within Turkey.
“The summit is about negotiating a broader agenda with Turkey and obviously about questions of the EU accession process, the opening of new chapters. It is an open accession process, we don’t speak about the result, but open new chapters.
“We plan to have regular meetings to talk about progress in the implementation of this agenda.”
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
“I expect that we will find an agreement today on stemming the refugee influx from Turkey via Greece to Europe. We need Turkey for this.”
“I will not write a blank cheque for Turkey.”
“I am confident that we will be able to make important steps regarding Turkey’s accession process but, at the same time, we should be certain that Turkey and Turkish authorities will do whatever is necessary to reduce the migrant and refugee flows.”
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Robin Emmott, Gabriela Baczynska, Sabine Siebold