Zovko encourages the dialogue between the EU and Turkey and calls to increase capacity to protect the borders of the Western Balkan countries
Brussels 10 March 2020,
During the Parliamentary plenary debate on the migration situation at the Greek-Turkish border, EPP Vice-coordinator for Foreign Affairs Željana Zovko welcomed the meeting of Turkish President Erdogan with Council President Michel and Commission President von der Leyen in Brussels. Zovko encourages the continuation of an open dialogue to solve the crisis at the EU’s external border.
Two weeks ago, Zovko paid an official visit to Turkey where she met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Çavuşoğlu and the Minister of the Interior Soylu, as well as with other senior officials. They discussed the migratory situation and the mutual obligations agreed upon in 2016. In addition, Zovko visited an EU funded health project for refugees at the Turkish-Syrian border in the region of Mardin to assess the functioning and the implementation of European contributions.
In her statement in the Parliament, Zovko welcome the timely coordinated response of the European Union led by the Croatian Prime Minister to protect the European external border from the orchestrated attempt to penetrate the EU through massive irregular migration flows coming from Turkey.
“I am deeply disappointed that the Turkish authorities have not respected the EU-Turkey Statement of 2016 that provided them with a substantial amount of means to accommodate an unprecedented number of refugees during the Syrian war”, Zovko said.
According to her, the Turkish encouragement of migrants to march in the European Union was a wrong tool to renegotiate something that could have been done without the use of human misery. It encourages Zovko to see the harmonised approach and common agreement by all European partners that irregular migration will not be welcomed.
In addition, Zovko says to be proud to see that the civil protection mechanism was used for this occasion to respond to the rising need of assistance, there where the crisis was developing.
“We must also focus on other fragile spots that might arise should this attempt continue and we should empower the countries in the Western Balkans with sufficient capacities to keep their borders safe. They are our partners and assist us in border protection, including at the longest European external border of Croatia,” Zovko continued.
She stressed that we must not forget that these countries need our full focus not to allow the crisis from the Turkish- Greek border to spread a fire through the Western Balkans that could inflame more than we expected. “It is our peace and stability at stake and it will be played where we fail and leave a vacuum. We must stay focused as the security of our citizens might be at stake,” Zovko concluded.