Parliament backs Dutch PM on Turkey-EU asylum deal

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Mark Rutte (Photo: Nick van Ormondt/Wikimedia Commons). Mark Rutte (Photo: Nick van Ormondt/Wikimedia Commons)

After much grumbling and arguing, the Tweede Kamer - the lower house of Dutch parliament - agreed to let Prime Minister  Mark Rutte go to a summit in Brussels to negotiate a deal with the Turks on a joint approach to the refugee crisis, ANP reports.

The plan involves Turkey taking back migrants or asylum seekers who come to Europe illegally. In return EU countries will take recognized asylum seekers in from Turkish refugee camps. The EU will make 6 million euros, instead of previously stated 3 million euros, available for refugee camps in Turkey - Rutte emphasized that the money goes to aid organizations, and not the Turkish government. And the EU will quickly eliminate visa requirements for Turks wanting to come to Europe and accelerated negotiations for Turkey's admittance to the EU.

Rutte believes that if this deal is successfully made, the asylum influx will be brought to a stop within three or four weeks. But he expects some bumps during the negotiations.

The CDA and other opposition parties expressed their doubts about the deal during a debate on the matter. They fear that Europe is letting Turkey make too many of the decisions. PVV leader Geert Wilders went so far as to claim that Turkish president Erdogan is the one ruling in Rutte's office. Many parties are particularly concerned about the accelerated negotiations on making Turkey part of the EU, because the country does not respect human rights and previously showed they are not unwilling to abandon agreements.

VVD, who supports the deal along with coalition party PvdA, believes that the deal will not mean  quicker admittance to the EU for Turkey. According to VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra, that is even "farther away than ever". Rutte agrees, adding that the admittance requirements will apply for Turkey as for everyone else. "I'll be the only one still in active service when an EU membership for Turkey is in sight. The rest of you will long be retired by then." the Prime Minister said.

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