Türkiye and the European Union have affirmed their willingness to bolster their cooperation on several key issues like irregular migration, counterterrorism and visa liberation for Turkish citizens.
Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson on Thursday met in Brussels for the second Türkiye-EU High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Security.
The pair exchanged views on respective policies and actions related to the prevention of irregular migration and discussed common approaches on a number of issues, including border security and the fight against migrant smuggling, a joint statement said following their meeting.
They also looked at how to enhance the cooperation of their respective migration and law enforcement agencies, the statement read.
While renewing their common desire to come to a successful conclusion in fulfilling the benchmarks under the Visa Liberalization Dialogue and to intensify cooperation to that end, they will, in the meantime, explore ways on travel facilitation for Turkish citizens through acceleration of visa issuance.
On security, they agreed to increase cooperation and mutual efforts on counterterrorism and the fight against organized crime. They agreed on strengthening cooperation in law enforcement.
Parties agreed to meet at the level of technical and senior officials regularly to review the progress on cooperation on the shared interests in the fields of migration and security.
Türkiye is an EU candidate country and an important EU partner for migration and security, the statement also read.
Turkish accession talks have been frozen since 2005 due to what Ankara calls political obstacles to its membership. But the transactional relationship between the pair deepened after they agreed on a deal in 2016 under which the EU gave billions of euros to Ankara to stop migrants coming to Europe at the height of the 2015 refugee crisis.
With the EU borders seeing another upsurge in migrant arrivals this year and Western nations fearing a fresh flux of Palestinian refugees as Israeli strikes continue pounding blockaded Gaza, the bloc is looking to revive and expand the deal.
Officials have expressed that Türkiye needs to be supported for the number of migrants it has taken in, but Ankara’s anti-Israel stance has recently strained relations, as well. Türkiye hosts over 3.8 million migrants, most of whom – 3.4 million – are Syrians who have been granted temporary protection status.
Irregular migration is a headache for Türkiye as it sits on the easternmost border of the Western bloc. Every year, thousands arrive in the country, either to stay illegally or to cross into Europe secretly. Türkiye deported a total of 124,441 irregular migrants last year, the highest in the country’s history.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced earlier this year that measures against irregular migration would be tightened in the upcoming period as public sentiment on refugees and migrants in Türkiye shifted.
Yerlikaya said in October that irregular migrants were searching for new routes due to Türkiye’s firm determination to stop them. “We have intelligence data, reports from source countries of irregular migration that shows smugglers advise migrants not to travel through Türkiye, citing our intense fieldwork to stop the migration.”
Source: Daily Sabah