EU, Turkey strike ‘historic’ deal to send back migrants

BRUSSELS: Turkish and EU leaders agreed a “historic” deal for curbing the influx of migrants that has plunged Europe into its biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II.

Under the deal, all migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey as early as Sunday will be turned back. But the leaders warned that a Herculean task lay ahead to implement the accord. And rights watchdogs said they would monitor it closely to ensure that those seeking asylum were protected.

Turkey extracted a string of political and financial concessions in exchange for becoming a bulwark against the flow of desperate humanity heading to Europe from Syria and elsewhere.

“It is a historic day because we reached a very important agreement between Turkey and the EU,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after the deal was struck at a summit in Brussels. “We today realised that Turkey and the EU have the same destiny, the same challenges and the same future.”

EU president Donald Tusk said that under the deal, all “irregular” migrants would be returned to Turkey from Sunday. AFP