Plan to fly in refugees from Turkey shows divisions in Dutch cabinet

European countries, including the Netherlands, must start taking in asylum seekers from Turkey through legal channels. And this must happen immediately, according to PvdA leader Diederik Samsom. His party wants Prime Minister Mark Rutte to advocate for an "air bridge" to bring hundreds of asylum seekers from Turkey to Europe per day, effective almost immediately at the European summit on the issue on Monday. Coalition party VVD is against this plan.

Samsom suggests that Europe takes "at least 400 asylum seekers a day" from Turkey for a trial period of a month. "As a sign of good will", he said to the Volkskrant. "If the EU shows Turkey that we are serious about resolving the refugee crisis, Ankara will start acting against the human traffickers. Now mistrust reigns and nothing happens, except that humanitarian dramas grow by the hour."

The PvdA leader believes that his proposal will jump-start the agreements made between the EU and Turkey in November. Turkey promised to slow the flow of asylum seekers to Greece. And in return the EU will give 3 billion euros in subsidies for asylum camps in Turkey, lift the visa requirements for Turks wanting to come to Europe and provide legal routes for recognized refugees to enter the EU. Samsom believes that the reason nothing has come of these plans as of yet, is that both parties are waiting for the other to take the first step.

Coalition partner VVD is 100 percent opposed to the plan. In reaction VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra told the Volkskrant that Turkey must first reduce the asylum flow to "zero" before an air bridge can be arranged. "Otherwise there will be two asylum flows and we will be doubly screwed", he said to the newspaper. "If Europe does what Samsom proposes, we reward the inaction of the Turks and they will never come into action."

The Tweede Kamer, lower house of Dutch Parliament,