Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes to discover on Wednesday exactly what Turkey is hoping to get from the European Union in return for taking a more active role in stemming the flow of refugees toward Greece.
Tsipras is due to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday after arriving in the neighboring country last night. Tsipras and Davutoglu attended a friendly soccer match between Turkey and Greece in Istanbul on Tuesday night. But the match was overshadowed by some of the Turkish fans booing the Greek prime minister and the minute’s silence for victims of the Paris attacks.
The refugee crisis, as well as the implications it has for security issues after the terrorist raids in the French capital, is expected to dominate Wednesday’s discussions.
Apart from aid of 3 billion euros, Ankara is asking the EU for help in upgrading its coast guard, the resumption of accession talks and a visa waiver for Turkish citizens traveling within the Union. Tsipras is expected to show a particular interest in the last two issues. Athens believes that the visa waiver may benefit Greek tourism, while the issue of Turkey’s potential EU membership is linked closely with reunification talks on Cyprus.
Tsipras traveled to Istanbul on Tuesday a few hours after at least nine people, including four children, died in the eastern Aegean when a plastic boat carrying migrants overturned near the island of Kos.