EU has not kept promises on supporting refugees, Erdoğan says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 20.09.2017 23:53
Updated 21.09.2017 16:52

The European Union has not provided sufficient financial support for Syrian refugees despite its promises, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday during his speech at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

"We are addressing the needs of refugees, from shelter to food to clothing to healthcare to education, at a standard that has received praise from everyone that has visited our country," President Erdoğan said. "However, I wanted to underline that our efforts have not received sufficient support from the international community and particularly Europe. The amount of money spent by the state, civil society organizations, and our people, in order to address the needs of refugees hosted in our cities and the camps, has reached $30 billion."

"In return, the European Union has only sent 820 million euros of its promised 3 billion plus. The amount of funds sent by the international community through the United Nations is about $520 million," he added, highlighting that Turkey has taken every measure to minimize the crossing of refugees to Europe.

The president underscored that the funds received from the international community is not added to the state budget but directly spent on the Syrian refugees through aid organizations.

Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016 to discourage irregular migration across the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of the nearly 3 million refugees in Turkey.

Since then, the number of refugees illegally crossing the Aegean between Turkey and Greece has dropped significantly, according to both EU and Turkish official figures.

The March 2016 deal employs a one-for-one formula under which failed asylum seekers in Europe are returned to Turkey while Syrian refugees are resettled in EU states in a quota system.

As another part of the deal, the EU said it would open two chapters in Ankara's EU accession negotiations; provide funding for refugees and grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens to the Schengen zone.

Ankara has criticized the EU for not holding to its promises and for not granting visa-free travel within the Schengen zone.

Erdoğan also on Tuesday called the EU authorities to have a sincere approach towards Turkey's accession talks and negotiations in an interview with PBS broadcaster.

"We are sincere on the issue of the EU but we also expect the same sincerity from the EU. The EU should make a decision about accepting Turkey [as a member] or not, however, I also do not know how much longer we will tolerate this. With these conditions, we can tolerate only so much. However, after that, Turkey will make its own decision," the president said.

Relations between Turkey and Europe have been stalled by many issues, including the failure of the EU to grant visa liberalization for Turkish citizens as promised and EU's indifference to the July 15 coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the PKK terror group.

Erdoğan said that EU states are turning a blind eye to the terror attacks against the Turkish state and its people, as well as the activities of the groups within the borders of the EU.

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