Politics, World, Europe

Turkey expects EU to pay refugee funds despite Italy

Turkey's EU minister says EU is obliged to deliver 3 billion euros regardless of Italian protests

Ilgın Karlıdağ   | 15.01.2016
Turkey expects EU to pay refugee funds despite Italy

Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest


Turkey expects the EU to deliver a promised 3 billion euros ($3.28 billion) to help it cope with refugees despite the protestations of Italy, Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir said Friday.

“What’s important is that when two sides have made a deal, then they are obliged to fulfill the promises they have made,” Bozkir told journalists in Brussels.

“I believe that the EU, thanks to its internal mechanisms, will go through with the decisions it has made. This is Turkey's expectation.”

The financial package to support Turkey in hosting around 2.5 million refugees and stem the flow of migrants to the EU, which was agreed in November, has been blocked by Italy. The deal is strongly supported by Germany.

In a news conference, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chaired a meeting of his European counterparts on Friday, said: “On the... key question whether Italy has lifted its objections, the answer is still 'no'. But we hope that that is possible very, very soon.”

He did not give an explanation for Italy’s objections.

Under the agreement, the EU will provide 1 billion euros with the remainder coming from member states. The money is due to be paid to Turkey by the end of 2016, by which time the EU could have received more than 3 million refugees, according to a European Commission statement in November.

Under the terms of the deal, Turkey can also expect the EU to revive its application to join the 28-nation bloc.

“We haven’t got the full three billion yet,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “We have money, just not the full 3 billion. It’s an issue of credibility for the EU.”

The president said he would travel to Italy by the end of February to try to resolve the issue, adding that “the mood between Italy and rest of EU is not at its best at the moment.”

Italy has been increasingly belligerent in recent months with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an EU summit in December.

Most of the more than 1 million refugees that reached the EU this year came through Turkey. Most were Syrians fleeing the five-year civil war to the south of Turkey.

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