The refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union should not collapse, Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister Karl Erjavec said Thursday.
"Relations between the European Union and Turkey are vital for the stability of the [Balkan] region," Erjavec, who is also Slovenia's foreign affairs minister, told Anadolu Agency. "In the case Turkey abandons the refugee deal, peace and stability will be badly affected. So dialogue needs to continue."
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016 which aims to discouraüge irregular migration across the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of the nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. The deal included a 6-billion-euro aid package to help Turkey care for the millions of refugees hosted in the country. Despite the promise made, Ankara has said that only about 700 million euros have been delivered. The promise of an acceleration of Turkey's EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen-area have also not been kept by the EU.
Turkish authorities previously said the refugee deal could collapse if the EU fails to provide Turkey with the promised visa liberalization by the end of this year.
Praising Turkey's contribution to the refugee crisis, Erjavec said, "Both the EU and Turkey should take responsibility in this."He also said that the past financial crisis in Europe, the refugee crisis and terror incidents have badly affected the EU's enlargement policy.
"In my opinion, Turkey's EU membership is surely important, but Turkey is already a part of Europe," he said.
ISTANBUL / DAILY SABAH WITH AA