angela merkel - bolja.jpg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called for EU leaders this week to agree to more aid for Turkey to help accommodate millions of refugees, saying the European Union had "a real chance" to resolve the region's migration crisis.

Merkel will join EU leaders for a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday to see "whether we can reach an agreement that could give us, for the first time, a real chance of a lasting and pan-European solution to the refugee crisis," the chancellor told the lower house of German parliament.

She said that Europe will be defined for years to come by its management of the refugee crisis, adding that its status as a "rich continent" means it must rise to the challenge in unison.

Merkel hopes to secure backing at the summit for a new plan to stem the influx of refugees into Europe - a plan that rests on a deal with Turkey that has been criticized by human rights advocates, European partners and Merkel's own domestic allies.

"There is still a lot to be done before we can reach an agreement acceptable to each and everyone of our 28 member states and Turkey," EU President Donald Tusk warned on Wednesday evening.

But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said he believes "progress is possible the next two days."

As part of the new migration deal, Turkey has called on the EU to offer more than the 3 billion euros (3.32 billion dollars) it already promised to help the country shelter the almost 3 million refugees it has taken in. Merkel called this "completely understandable."

EU leaders will consider pledging up to 3 billion euros more to Turkey through 2018, according to a draft statement prepared for their summit seen by dpa.

But other demands made by Ankara have proven more challenging, particularly any accelerated drive to EU membership for Turkey.

The country's bid to join the EU is "not on the agenda now", Merkel told the Bundestag. Ultimately, she said there should be a "balancing of interests according to our values."

Cyprus, which has a particularly thorny relationship with Turkey, has threatened to veto part of the migration deal, arguing that Ankara has failed to fulfill past obligations related to its bid for EU membership.

Ankara has also sought visa-free travel for Turks to Europe in exchange for its help on migration, which would include taking back migrants who reach the EU.

Visa-free travel has been a long-standing goal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The EU has shown itself ready to deliver this by June, but is insisting that Ankara first finish meeting 72 benchmarks set by Brussels for the liberalization of visas.

"There is still much to solve," Merkel said.

The German leader has resisted national solutions demanded by her domestic critics, such as stepping up border controls or placing caps on the number of new arrivals, which reached 1 million in 2015.

Latest news

Merkel calls for fewer EU regulations as nationalist sentiments grow

As voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany show increasing support for nationalist, euro-sceptic political movements ahead of this year's elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for limits on EU regulations.

French prosecutors transfer Fillon case to investigative judge

The French judiciary has opened a formal investigation in connection with presidential candidate Francois Fillon to examine whether the employment of his wife as a parliamentary employee was a sham, the country's financial prosecutors' office said Friday.

White House bars major news outlets from press briefing

Major news organizations, which were Friday blocked by the White House from attending an informal press briefing, condemned the move just hours after President Donald Trump described parts of the media as "the enemy of the people."

Report: German intelligence spied on BBC, other foreign journalists

Germany's intelligence agency monitored foreign journalists at the BBC, the New York Times and other news organizations from 1999 onwards across several countries, according to a Friday report from Der Spiegel magazine.

Classroom for Islamic religious education opened in Split

A classroom for Islamic religious education, whose equipment was financially assisted by city and county authorities, was opened in the coastal city of Split on Friday.

Ministry say no licences for export of military goods to Saudi Arabia issued in 2016

The Economy, Enterprise and Crafts Ministry on Friday issued a statement regarding media reports about export licences for military goods, stressing that in 2016 it did not issue any licences for the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia.

Croatia for preserving Bosnia's stability

Croatia on Friday supported the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), calling on its authorities to adopt decisions in institutions, after a request by BiH Presidency Bosniak member Bakir Izetbegovic to review a ruling which acquitted Serbia of genocide.

Mexico is not a migrant "waiting room" for US, interior minister says

Mexico will not accept undocumented immigrants from other countries whom the United States plans to deport, Mexico's interior minister said Friday.

Right-wing populist Wilders declines first Dutch election debate

Candidates from nine Dutch parties answered questions from journalists Friday at the first national radio debate of the election campaign, but the leading candidate

Bosnian Croat reps insist on channel airing programmes in Croatian

Being one of the constituent peoples, the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are entitled to a broadcaster that will air programmes in their native language, HNS BiH official Ivan Vukoja said at a news conference in Mostar on Friday.

Same-sex couples in Slovenia can marry

A Slovenian law allowing same-sex couples to marry went into force on Friday and the first civil registrar ceremony, between two women, is to take place in Maribor on Saturday, the town's Vecer daily said.

Moody's changes Agrokor's outlook to negative

The Moody's rating agency on Friday changed its outlook for the Agrokor food retailer from stable to negative, affirming its rating of B3.