Sunday

11th Apr 2021

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.

Analysis

Frontex is its own worst enemy

The Warsaw-based agency held out 105 days, refusing freedom of information requests, before it finally revealed a partial breakdown of costs linked to its annual European Border and Coast Guard Day. Such delays, on spending, tend to arouse suspicions.

Frontex redacts its hospitality spending figures

The EU's border agency Frontex has blacked-out entire documents on how it spends EU taxpayer money on itself, including gala dinners and hotels. The agency, whose annual budget has soared to €544m, claims there is "no overriding public" interest.

Deadlock looms on EU's new asylum pact

MEPs working on the new EU-wide asylum reforms have cast doubt on whether agreement will be reached with their co-legislating member state counterparts. A proposal to create independent monitors on human rights is also on shaky ground.

News in Brief

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Analysis

Frontex scrutiny on rights violations is a PR stunt

Greece denies any illegal pushbacks at sea. The EU takes their version of events as face value, in a system unable and unwilling to shed doubt on Greek authorities - posing accountability questions on the EU's border guard agency Frontex.

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