Merkel Wants Migrant Return Deals With North African States

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(AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Tuesday on the EU and North African countries to do deals modelled on a controversial agreement with Turkey to stem migrant flows to Europe. Under the EU-Turkey agreement, Ankara agreed to take back one Syrian who made it to Greece in return for being allowed to send one from its massive refugee camps to the bloc in a more orderly redistribution programme. The deal also pledges billions of euros in EU aid for Turkey, visa-free European travel for Turkish citizens and accelerated EU membership talks. “We must agree on similar deals with other countries, such as in North Africa, in order to get better control over the Mediterranean sea refugee routes,” Merkel told regional daily Neue Passauer Zeitung. “Such agreements are also in the interest of the refugees themselves,” she said, pointing to the huge risks migrants take in crossing the Mediterranean in rickety vessels, as well as the large sums they have to pay smugglers for the perilous sea passage. “It is safer for them and there are good reasons for them to remain in Turkey, close to their homeland, where the cultural and language barriers are lower,” she said, defending the