Among the measures advocated by the Commissioner are a greater role for the EU in finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict, an accelerated redistribution of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy and more legal opportunities for refugees to seek protection in Europe. While the Turkish government needed a public relations victory, it had deeper motivations for opening borders. Ankara said the measure would put pressure on the European Union to support its orientation in Idlib and to provide additional funds to Syrian refugees in Turkey. It also sought to force the EU to comply with its obligations under a March 2016 agreement by which Turkey limits the number of migrants entering Europe in exchange for refugee aid and other promises. The 2016 agreement focused on the so-called "one-for-one" programme, in which Turkey would send a Syrian refugee to the bloc it has taken over from the Greek islands. In addition, a number of political actions have been taken against the Turkish government. These include the resumption of EU accession negotiations, visa exemption for Turkish nationals in the EU, the reform of the customs union and a voluntary humanitarian reception programme to resettle more Syrians. However, all this has been frozen because of Turkey`s political precariousness and the worrying conditions in which many refugees and asylum seekers have been living since 2013. But the Turkish Foreign Ministry quickly denied the reports on Friday morning.

"Our country, which has taken in more refugees than any other country in the world, will not change its refugee and migration policy," ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said. On 20 March 2016, a formal agreement between the EU and Turkey to deal with the migration crisis came into force. The agreement is expected to limit the influx of irregular migrants entering the EU via Turkey. A key aspect of the agreement is the return to Ankara, the Turkish capital, of irregular migrants, who are found to have entered the EU via Turkey without having already been the subject of a formal asylum application procedure. Those who have bypassed the asylum procedure in Turkey would be returned and placed at the end of the application line. What complicates matters is that many EU Member States were not prepared to take in an adequate number of these Syrian refugees who are already in Turkey. "If the EU does not change quickly, the agreement will fail," said migration expert Gerald Knaus in a recent interview. Knaus advised Austria and the EU in 2015 and 2016 and is widely regarded as the architect of the EU-Turkey agreement. While EU and Turkish representatives will review the 2016 agreement in the coming weeks, both sides are expected to explore ways to modernise the customs union and promote the integration of refugees in Turkey.

About the author