Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday that the European Union has not even paid half of the 6 billion euros (US$6.65 billion) it had promised Ankara to tackle the issue of refugees following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.
Mevlut Cavusoglu was speaking to the German daily Bild, commenting on Turkey’s relations with the EU and its moves in Syria and Libya.
Cavusoglu said the EU did not completely fulfill its promises as part of a 2015 agreement where both sides reached a deal on the refugee crisis and said the union has not even paid the initial 3 billion euros, which should have been delivered by the end of 2016.
Turkey's top diplomat said German Chancellor Angela Merkel played a significant role in the signing of the refugee deal and this triggered jealousy among some EU member countries.
Hailing Germany for being supportive and courageous in the sense of supporting the refugee deal, Cavusoglu said the agreement significantly reduced the number of people illegally crossing into Europe.
"Before striking the deal, up to 7,000 refugees left Turkey for Greece on a daily basis," he said, adding around 57 refugees per day have entered Greek islands since the deal was signed.
He went on to say that some central and eastern European countries did not want to embrace refugees and put Germany in a spot.
However, the promises on the Customs Union and discussions on Turkey's ascension to the EU were also not fulfilled, according to Cavusoglu.
He said although promises were not fulfilled, Turkey remains committed to continuing the migration agreement with the EU.
Referring to some 3.5 million Turks living in Germany, Cavusoglu said Turkey viewed these people as a bridge connecting both countries and Ankara supported the integration of Turks into the German community.
On the other hand, he expressed discomfort over supporters of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and PKK terror group taking shelter in Germany and said senior members of the former sought asylum there, whereas the latter collected money to finance terrorism.
Berlin summit on Libya
The Turkish diplomat welcomed the German initiative to host the Berlin Conference, where a ceasefire in war-weary Libya was discussed in an effort to bring peace there. Forces of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and those linked to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar are battling for control of key terrain and critical infrastructure.
Cavusoglu noted that the GNA said it would adhere to the joint declaration issued following the meeting whereas Haftar’s side did not provide a positive or negative response.
Asked what Turkey’s interest in Libya was, Cavusoglu said peace and stability were the main motivations for the Ankara administration, adding it had reached a security agreement with the UN-recognized government as well. He noted that Turkey deployed a limited number of military advisors to Tripoli.
Syria and refugees
As the Syrian regime and its allies continue their aggression in the northwestern city of Idlib, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing their homes and taking shelter near the Turkish border.
Cavusoglu, for his part, said Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime preferred a military solution over a political one whereas Turkey believed in the importance of political negotiations to resolve the conflict.
Recalling German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's statements regarding the establishment of an international safe zone in Syria, Cavusoglu said Turkey did not raise any objections to this suggestion but pointed to the challenges.
He noted that some 372,000 Syrians had returned home following Turkey’s anti-terror operations in northern Syria against the YPG terror group, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terror group in Turkey.
According to Cavusoglu, Turkey hosts 3.6 million displaced Syrians, and some 350,000 of them were of Kurdish origin.
"Have you ever asked yourself why these Kurds do not want to return to the area controlled by the YPG terror group? The West has double standards in this context," he said.
Cavusoglu noted that the YPG terror group changed the demographic structure in Syria while Turkey only fought terrorist organizations attempting to split the country.
*Writing by Ali Murat AlhasAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.