Turkey calls on EU to release 3 billion-euro fund for Syrian refugees
Emine Kart - ANKARAForeign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has voiced Ankara’s unease over the European Union’s delay in releasing the 3 billion-euro refugee fund, calling on the 28-member bloc to be “more pragmatic” and overcome red tape.
“There are difficulties in attaining the 3 billion euros that the EU has promised for the Syrian refugees ... The EU has long supported many projects in member countries and membership candidate countries, so the funds are there,” Çavuşoğlu said on April 20, speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski.
“Projects for the use of the money have to be drafted and preparing these plans takes up to two years. What will happen to the living standards of these people in the meantime? There is a need to be pragmatic,” he added, after being asked about the implementation of the landmark March 18 refugee deal between Ankara and Brussels.
“There is breakdown only concerning this part [the 3 billion euros],” Çavuşoğlu said, stressing that Turkey is “doing its part.”
Under the deal, Turkey agreed to take back all migrants arriving in the Greek islands, in an effort to relieve the pressure on the European Union that has seen one million irregular migrant arrivals since early 2015. In return, the EU promised to resettle one Syrian refugee for every Syrian taken back by Turkey, to grant visa-free travel to Turks within the border-free Schengen Zone, and to reassess Turkey’s stalled EU membership bid.
In February, EU countries approved a fund of 3 billion euros for Turkey to improve living conditions for refugees in exchange for Ankara ensuring that fewer of them migrate on to Europe.