Renzi wants Turkey deal

EU seeks agreement on migrants with Ankara at summit

(ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - Premier Matteo Renzi warned on his way in to a European Union migration summit Thursday that any immigration accord with Turkey will set a precedent. "We agree on reaching the accord with Turkey, but let us be very clear - it will set a precedent," he said. "The rules that will apply to Turkey will have to apply to the other countries we expect (migration) flows to be coming from".
    Italy's "objective is to reach an immigration accord with Turkey, but starting from our values and our ideals". Any such deal with Ankara must be "based on European principles", he added.
    "For a long time, Italy stood alone in requesting a European approach to immigration. Finally the issue has been recognized as one that needs to be faced by everyone," Renzi went on.
    He added that "the real challenge is investing at the root of the problem, going to Africa, making Africa central".
    "Africa is a priority for this government and for Italy - may it be so for Europe as well." "To those who say we must help migrants in their home countries, I answer that Italy is on it," Renzi said.
    The Italian premier added that while it is important to reach a deal with Turkey, aid Greece and keep Cyprus' concerns in mind, the real challenge is to go to the root of the problem.
    "(We need to) go to Africa, increase aid, create development opportunities there within the framework of an overall political strategy," he said.
    In related news, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she shared the "cautious optimism" of European Council President Donald Tusk that leaders can reach a common position on a deal with Turkey on migrants and refugees.
    "The talks will be difficult but...I am cautiously optimistic that we can find a common position," Merkel said. "We must find a shared solution first of all among EU countries".
    Earlier this month, the EU reached a preliminary deal whereby Turkey would take back one Syrian illegal immigrant for every legitimate asylum seeker that it allows into Europe.
    However, critics have expressed concerns about human rights guarantees, among other things.