Leaders weigh in on EU-Turkey dilemma of stemming migration flows

Leaders from the EU and Turkey are grappling for a joint response to the migration surge into Europe at a summit in Brussels.

The talks have been overshadowed by Ankara's takeover of an opposition newspaper last week. As an EU membership candidate, Turkey is expected to abide by the bloc's standards on issues including media freedom.

The EU leaders are also meeting to discuss border restrictions introduced along the Western Balkan migration route from Greece to northern Europe, which are trapping migrants in Greece and precipitating a humanitarian crisis there.

Ahead of the summit, leaders weigh in on the issues at hand.


"There are many challenges in front of us. The only way to respond to these challenges is solidarity. ... We have to see the whole picture - not just irregular migration, but [that] the whole future of our continent is on the table."


"This is our common problem. It's not a problem of one country, this is a European problem. So [we] have to find collective solutions."


"Our relation with Turkey is a complex one and complete one, as Turkey is in itself a complex country."


"We must defend our own interests with regard to Turkey, eye to eye, with a lot of frankness and clarity - no taboo subjects. ... Turkey also has economic development interests linked to the partnership with the EU. So let's discuss everything, without taboo."


"It cannot be that because of the refugee issue other values that are important for Europe, such as freedom of the media, just get thrown overboard."


On Turkey's opposition newspaper takeover: "This is a matter of very considerable concern now for a lot of countries and I'm sure it will be mentioned by more than one speaker here today. If Turkey really wished to join the EU, they should be adhering to European standards."


"When it comes to the question of how we get the number of refugees to decrease not just for some, few countries, but for all countries - including Greece - it cannot be about closing something or other."


On the closure of the Western Balkan migration route: "This is effectively what is the case today - this route is closed."


"If we bring in migrants directly from Greece or Turkey, that is an invitation to the dance, adding fuel to the fire. Even more will come. ... Nothing should be done without the closing of the borders."


"I am very much for telling all clearly: We will close all routes, the Balkan route too. ... It has been for many too easy to simply wave through people, to guide them through. The clearer we resist, the more explicitly we resist, the better." 


"This Balkan route will be closed. That will be the main message."


On Twitter: "Migrants move faster than we act."

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

More from Europe

Russia 'disappointed' with Pence's remarks on Ukraine conflict

Russia is "disappointed" with US Vice President Mike Pence's comments regarding Moscow's implementation of a...

Pence reassures allies of Trump's NATO support, tough Russia stance

US Vice President Mike Pence sought to reassure European allies on Saturday of his country's "unwavering" support of...

Polish PM released from hospital after car accident

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo left a military hospital in Warsaw on Friday, a week after being involved in a...

Report: Illegal immigrant numbers in Germany fell sharply in 2016

The number of cases of illegal entry to Germany fell sharply in 2016 compared with the previous year, according to...

Merkel says NATO also important for US, vows to up defence spending

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday highlighted the significance of NATO for the United States after threats...