The European Union is offering billions of euros and political favours in ‘hush money’ to Turkey in return for help in stopping the flow of migrants.
German Chancellor Angel Merkel has met with Turkish President Recep Erdogan to offer him 3 billion euros for closing his frontiers to migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.
To curry favour, she has also proposed Turks should visit Europe without visas and to fast track the country’s application to join the European Union.
Turkey is the key to stemming the flow of migrants.
The country host around 2.5 million displaced Syrians, but few are housed in refugee camps as registering as a refugee means that they cannot move onward to Europe.
Instead, most are living and working in Turkish cities and paying human traffickers up to 1,200 euros each for a passage to Greece, where they start their migration through the Balkans to Hungary.
Once in Hungary, the migrants are inside the Schengen Zone, which means the way is open for passport and visa free travel within the EU, with their final destination Germany.
Now, Hungary has set up a razor wire curtain along the border with Croatia to stop migrants entering the country.
Instead, the human flow has diverted to Slovenia, where the government has announced 2,500 migrants a day will be allowed in.
The final destinations are Germany and Sweden. Germany has already sheltered more than a million migrants this year and is struggling to cope with the exodus.
It seems Merkel has decided paying the Turks to keep the Syrians and migrants from as far as Afghanistan is cheaper and more expedient than leaving the welcome mat down for hundreds of thousands more.
Around 3.5 million Turks already live in Germany.
The talks with Turkey are a new experience for Merkel, who generally holds the upper hand in EU dealings because the powerhouse German economy is the largest in the Eurozone.
This time she has little leverage and the Turks know this.
Expect some tough bargaining from Erdogan, who faces a general election on November 1.
Merkel has previously slated the Turkish government for a poor record on freedom of speech and human rights and demanded changes before the country can accede to the union.