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'EU needs to take more initiative, speed up aid for refugees', says EU Minister Çelik

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published
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EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik expressed his disappointment with the EU over its reluctance to send the funds it promised for refugees in Turkey and criticized the 28-member bloc over the lack of European initiatives for one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the century.

"As the government we've spent $12bn for refugees so far, and NGOs have spent about $13bn, making a total of 25 billion dollars," he told EU officials in a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

Pointing out that there were still so much to do for the refugees, minister Çelik said that EU's promised funds still hadn't arrived and the process needed to be accelerated.

Çelik stated that Turkey expects the EU to start doing its part as agreed in the March 18 deal. He continued to say that it was wrong of EU officials to concentrate only on the security of their borders and the migration dimension of the deal.

The EU and Turkey signed a refugee deal on March 18, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Under Turkey's proposal to the EU, the country wanted the 28-nation bloc to "share the burden" based on a formula of "for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states."

As part of the deal Turkey also agreed to receive a 3-billion-euro fund from the EU, as well as visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and more chapters for its full membership bid.

According to EU figures, "the total humanitarian funding provided by the EU to Turkey in response to the Syria Crisis since the beginning of the crisis amounts to 583 million euros as of September 2016," far short of the amount agreed.

Although Turkey fulfilled most of the criteria, differences between Brussels and Ankara on anti-terror legislation have forestalled the visa-liberalization deal.

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