Tuesday

18th Dec 2018

Pay up on migrant deal, Turkey tells EU

  • Erdogan (l) has accused EU governments of being dishonest (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the EU to pay its dues if it wants to keep a migrant deal with Ankara intact.

Speaking to German ARD television on Monday (25 July), Erdogan said the EU had promised €3 billion in aid to help improve living conditions of the some 3 million Syrian refugee it hosts.

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  • The EU-Turkey deal has seen irregular crossings to Greece drop from thousands a day to fewer than 100 (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

“Ask them [the EU]. Did you pay? But Turkey still hosts 3 million people. What would Europe do if we let these people go to Europe?”, he said.

"The [European] governments are not honest”, he added.

Erdogan estimated that Turkey has spent some $12 billion (€10.9 billion) to help refugees since the start of the five-year civil war in Syria.

Turkey agreed with the EU in March to prevent people from leaving to seek international protection in Greece.

In return, the EU agreed to speed up accession talks and lift short term visas for Turks, among other incentives.

Thousands of people were landing on the Greek islands on a daily basis at the height of the crisis last year.

Those figures have since dropped to double digits although reports are emerging of a small spike since the failed coup in Turkey earlier this month.

The European Commission's chief spokesperson last week said that the visa and migrant deals with Turkey remained unchanged despite the developments.

Erdogan also said Ankara would keep its end of the bargain.

"I want to say one thing quite clearly: On the refugee issue, we will stand behind our promises,” he told ARD.

Erdogan's comments follow the 15 July coup attempt and a subsequent purge that has seen thousands of teachers, judges, prosecutors, military and other civil servants dismissed or detained.

Arrest warrants for 42 journalists have been issued and over 220 employees of the state-owned national carrier Turkish Airlines have also been dismissed.

Turkey's government says the coup was organised by followers of the US based Fetullah Gulen.

Gulen, who has been exiled in the US since 1991, has denied any involvement.

"Mr Erdogan’s accusation is no surprise, not for what it says about me but rather for what it reveals about his systematic and dangerous drive toward one-man rule," said Gulen in an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday.

Erdogan has also threatened to reintroduce the death penalty in the wake of the coup.

In reaction, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker threatened to stop all negotiations for Turkey's accession to the EU should Ankara install capital punishment.

"I believe that Turkey, in its current state, is not in a position to become a member any time soon and not even over a longer period," he told French television France 2 also on Monday.

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Migration was overshadowed by Brexit at the EU summit, with leaders stuck on key legislation. Some warned that free movement could be at risk.

EU summit hits asylum fatigue as deadlock continues

Leaders at the EU summit are unlikely to discuss migration, preferring instead to rubber-stamp pre-cooked conclusions. Recent proposals by the European Commission to get some of the reforms finalised are also unlikely to get broad support. The two-year deadlock continues.

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