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EU Official: Greece to Become Refugee Camp if EU Fails on Deal With Turkey

P031200000502-905412Failure to agree on a deal with Turkey at Thursday’s summit on migration will condemn Greece to becoming the refugee camp of Europe, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on Wednesday.
Timmermans argued that the only way to deal with the massive influx of migrants was to seal a controversial deal with Turkey, as the vast majority of migrants get to the EU through the Greek islands. However, the migrants are transferred to Greece by people smugglers from the Turkish coasts.
The deal, to be discussed by European leaders over Thursday and Friday, would see that for every Syrian refugee transferred from a Turkish refugee camp to the EU, one illegal Syrian migrant will be sent back to Turkey from Greece.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Timmermans criticized the closing of borders across Europe. “Do you really want to condemn Greece to becoming the refugee camp of Europe?” he said characteristically.
Timmermans said that the European Commission is “proposing now a temporary measure to break the business model of the smugglers.”
“This will show Syrian refugees, you will have the possibility of going to the EU in a legal way. Whereas, if you do make the choice to go with people smugglers, you will arrive in Greece, but be returned to Turkey,” he said.
In exchange, Turkey is demanding another 3 billion euros on top of the 3 billion aid package that was agreed in November. In addition, Ankara asks for eased visa requirements for Turkish citizens for travel in the EU, and progress on talks for Turkey to join the EU.
The EU will push to only pay the second 3 billion euros after the first 3 billion has been spent, sources said.

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