Politics

EU 'sticks to' migration deal with Turkey: Official

EU commissioner for crisis management to visit refugee camps in Turkey, top EU officials travel to Greek-Turkish border

Agnes Szucs   | 02.03.2020
EU 'sticks to' migration deal with Turkey: Official

BRUSSELS

EU commissioner for crisis management will visit the refugee facilities in Turkey's southeastern Gaziantep province in the upcoming days, the European Commission announced on Monday.

Janez Lenarcic will assess the help the EU can offer to refugees from Idlib, Syria, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said at a press conference.

She confirmed that the EU “sticks to” the 2016 EU-Turkey understanding on migration and the bloc had been engaging in a “more and more intensive dialogue” with the Turkish authorities to “find a common ground where support for refugees might be needed.”

Von der Leyen also voiced concerns over the Turkish authorities’ recent decision on no longer stopping irregular migrants from reaching Europe. “What we see now can’t be an answer or solution” to the challenges Turkey’s facing, she said.

The Turkish authorities’ decision came after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed by an attack of the Syrian regime in the Idlib de-escalation zone, on Feb. 27. The renewed attacks risk another wave of migrant flow to Turkey that already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

The EU and Turkey concluded a deal in 2016 on refugees, in which the EU provided €6 billion financial assistance, and Turkey agreed to stop irregular migrants heading to Europe.

The EU has already transferred more than half of the financial support, but according to Ankara’s criticism, it failed to deliver on other promises of the deal, such as visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe.

"The era of one-sided sacrifices is now over," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Several thousands of migrants have gathered at the Turkish-Greek border in the past few days.

The Greek government on Sunday asked for the EU’s help to secure its borders and announced that it stopped accepting asylum claims for a month due to the increased migratory pressure.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) started to prepare a group of additional border guards and equipment.

Von der Leyen together with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the head of the European Parliament David Sassoli will travel to the Greek-Turkish land border on Tuesday.

EU foreign affairs ministers are also expected to hold an emergency meeting later this week to discuss the recent developments in Syria and its impact on refugee flows.

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