Interview 03 Jan 18

‘Architect’ of EU-Turkey Deal Looks to Bulgaria

Gerald Knaus, the man who came up with the plan to stem the migrant influx through the Aegean, tells BIRN that Bulgaria could use its EU presidency to make the refugee deal with Turkey work.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Geral Knaus.  Photo: Personal archive

Over and year and a half since the EU and Turkey sealed a deal to stem the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe, the man who came up with the plan has embarked on a quest to make it work.

Gerald Knaus, founder of the European Stability Initiative, ESI, a German-based think-tank which proposed the so-called “Merkel Plan” for the refugee crisis back in 2015, has spent the last months shuttling back and forth from Berlin to Ankara and capitals throughout Europe, meeting diplomats and decision makers to push for improvements to the EU’s common approach to asylum.

In between meetings with Bulgarian officials and humanitarian organizations, BIRN met Knaus in Sofia, which he visited in December to urge the country to play a key role in resolving the EU’s migration challenges during its historic first Presidency of the European Council, starting in January 2018.

Often called the “architect” of the 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal, Knaus insists that the agreement between Brussels and Ankara remains viable, despite growing skepticism among some EU members, mostly from Eastern Europe, and ongoing tensions sparked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s severe crackdown on his opponents.

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