Turkey hopes EU talks will mark turning point

Belgium EU SummitBRUSSELS (AP) – The Latest on the migration crisis as leaders from the EU and Turkey meet in Brussels (all times local):
11:30 a.m.
Turkey’s prime minister says he hopes that a summit with European Union leaders on Monday will mark a turning point in relations as the EU seeks to stop migrants heading to Greece.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Brussels that the meeting is as focused on Turkey’s future EU membership as on the refugee emergency.
He said “Turkey is ready to work with the EU, and Turkey is ready to be a member of the EU as well.”
Davutoglu expressed hope the summit “will be a success story and a turning point in our relations.”
The EU is desperate to halt the flow of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. It has offered Turkey billions of euros (dollars) in refugee aid, fast-track EU membership and an easing of visa rules to win its support.
11:15 a.m.
Hundreds of Calais residents are heading to Paris to protest against the negative impact of the migrant crisis on the local economy.
Ten buses carrying about 500 people, most of them working in local businesses, left the northern French port city on Monday morning to meet with Finance Minister Michel Sapin and representatives of French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee palace later in the afternoon.
The protesters claim that the large number of migrants in the makeshift camp known as the Jungle has badly damaged local businesses’ activity. David Sagnard, a member of the delegation traveling to the French capital, said the protesters want to be granted lower tax rates for their businesses “to boost economic activity and employment.”
Most of the migrants living in the area are trying to sneak across the English Channel to Britain.
10:50 a.m.
Britain’s defense secretary says Prime Minister David Cameron will urge European leaders to make good on funds to help Turkey deal with the refugee crisis.
Michael Fallon told the BBC on Monday that Cameron will urge other EU leaders to deliver on millions of euros (dollars) in pledges. Fallon says Europe has promised the money and the coast guard there “needs to be strengthened and we need to do as much as we can to help Turkey.”
Britain has pledged to back a NATO operation meant to provide information about smugglers to halt their actions. Fallon says the amphibious landing ship RFA Mounts Bay will use an onboard helicopter to provide data on smuggling routes. The information will be passed to Turkish authorities to intercept migrants attempting the crossing.
10:25 a.m.
Police are patrolling a square in central Athens to prevent migrants from setting up camp there after the site was cleared at the weekend.
Hundreds of people, mostly from Afghanistan, had been sleeping rough at Victoria Square in the center of Athens since border restrictions and closures were imposed by Austria and several Balkan countries last month.
Early Monday police were instructing those reaching the square to seek refuge at one of several shelters set up around the capital, while municipal workers were cleaning the area, using pressure hoses.
Refugees and other migrants have continued to travel to Greece from nearby Turkey despite the border closures, with 2,480 arriving Sunday, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
Some 34,000 migrants are currently stranded in Greece – with about a third of that number camped out in increasingly difficult conditions at the Greek-Macedonian border.
10:15 a.m.
Greece’s prime minister is urging his European Union partners to finally put long-agreed migrant plans into action, as thousands of people wait on the country’s border with Macedonia.
Arriving for talks with EU leaders in Brussels Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday that “rules are for all, and everybody has to implement our common decisions.”
He told reporters that “if there are agreements that are not implemented there were not agreements at all.”
EU leaders agreed in September to share 160,000 refugees arriving in Greece and Italy over two years. As of March 3, fewer than 700 people had been relocated to other European countries.
Tsipras said that Europe must “have a credible relocation process.”
10:10 a.m.
Thousands of refugees stranded on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia are anxiously awaiting news from a European Union-Turkey summit that could determine their fate.
The leaders are expected to declare the main Balkan migrant route closed Monday, after Macedonia, backed by Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, limited border crossings to a trickle.
Although the flow into Macedonia has slowed, some people are still getting through. Greek authorities said 337 people crossed between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday.
One Kurdish Syrian family said they were determined to cross and be reunited with the rest of the family in Germany.
“Whatever it takes. We will go. We have nothing to go back to. Our homes are destroyed, we have nothing to go back to,” said Lasgeen Hassan, 59, from Al Qamishli.
10:05 a.m.
France’s foreign minister says Europe must reach a deal with Turkey over how to handle the influx of migrants and must rethink its own system of open borders.
In an interview Monday with FranceInter radio, Jean-Marc Ayrault said the European Union’s system of open borders wasn’t set up to deal with a major migration crisis and must be reformed.
He said that will entail protecting the EU’s outer frontiers, dividing up newcomers who have the right to asylum, helping Greece and reaching an accord with Turkey. Those two countries on Europe’s outer edges are struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of migrants hoping to reach a better life in the north.
EU leaders are holding talks later Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
9:40 a.m.
European Union leaders have started arriving in Brussels to press Turkey to do more to stop migrants entering Europe and to shore up support for Greece, where thousands of people are stranded.
The leaders are expected to declare the main Balkan migrant route closed Monday, after Macedonia, backed by Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, limited border crossings to a trickle.
Ahead of the summit in Brussels, some 14,000 people were camped in Greece at the Macedonian border hoping desperately to be allowed to cross.
The leaders are set first to hold talks at 1130 GMT with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
A draft statement prepared for their talks says they will ensure “comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey of all irregular migrants not in need of international protection.”

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