Friday

22nd Nov 2019

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.

EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors

A two-year scheme to send asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU states fell short of its potential, say EU auditors. Some 35,000 were helped - but auditors say 445,000 in Greece alone could have also potentially benefited.

Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will "open the doors" for refugees and migrants to enter Europe unless it does more to help. The EU says it won't help Turkey create a so-called "safe zone" in north-east Syria.

Greek migrant hotspot now EU's 'worst rights issue'

The 14,000 migrants trapped on the Greek island of Lesbos has been described as "the single most worrying fundamental rights issue that we are confronting anywhere in the European Union" by the head of the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency.

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