Slove­nian FM: EU-Turkey refugee deal should con­tinue

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

SLOVE­NIAN For­eign Min­is­ter Karl Er­javec said Thurs­day the EU-Turkey agree­ment on refugees should con­tinue in or­der to pre­vent a pos­si­ble mi­gra­tion wave into the western Balkans.

Er­javec made the com­ment af­ter meet­ing with Ital­ian For­eign Min­is­ter An­gelino Al­fano dur­ing a work­ing visit to Italy. Dur­ing the meet­ing, the min­is­ters dis­cussed bi­lat­eral relations as well as re­gional de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing the mi­grant and refugee cri­sis.

Ad­dress­ing a joint press con­fer­ence, Er­javec said there was no risk of a mi­gra­tion route into the Balkans as long as the refugee deal be­tween Turkey and the Euro­pean Union con­tin­ues.

“Di­a­logue with Ankara should be main­tained to keep the deal go­ing,” Er­javec said. How­ever, he voiced con­cern over neg­a­tive re­sults of such “a mi­gra­tion wave into the western Balkans.” The min­is­ter also warned of the in­sta­bil­ity that might be cre­ated by for­eign fighters, who he said could re­turn to their coun­tries as Daesh con­tin­ues to lose ground.

In March 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal to dis­cour­age ir­reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion on the Aegean Sea by im­ple­ment­ing stricter mea­sures against hu­man traf­fick­ers and im­prov­ing the con­di­tions of the 3 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees in Turkey.

As EU of­fi­cials con­tinue to praise Turkey’s role in the refugee deal and stress the bloc’s com­mit­ment to it, Turkish politi­cians have crit­i­cized the EU for not keep­ing its prom­ises.

The deal in­cluded a 6 bil­lion euro aid pack­age to help Ankara care for the mil­lions of refugees in the coun­try, and the EU promised to ini­tially al­lo­cate 3 bil­lion eu­ros in its first tranche for projects to sup­port Syr­ian refugees. How­ever, only 800 mil­lion eu­ros have been trans­ferred so far. Ankara says it has spent more than 20 bil­lion eu­ros of its na­tional re­sources to help and pro­vide shel­ter to refugees since the be­gin­ning of the Syr­ian civil war. The agree­ment also al­lowed for the ac­cel­er­a­tion of Ankara’s EU mem­ber­ship bid and visa-free travel for Turkish na­tion­als within the Schen­gen zone, which is mostly com­prised of EU mem­ber states.

Joel Mill­man, a spokesman for the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion (IOM), said in late Oc­to­ber that the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers cross­ing into Greece had fallen sharply due to mea­sures Turkey adopted last year af­ter the deal.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the IOM, nearly 23,000 peo­ple passed to Greece from Turkey in the first 10 months of this year com­pared to around 170,000 last year and 780,000 in 2015.

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