Italy blocks EU fund for refugees in Turkey as leaders meet for summit

Italy blocks EU fund for refugees in Turkey as leaders meet for summit

The European Union has found itself in an internal crisis as Italy blocked the second batch of the 3 billion euros that the bloc promised to pay Turkey for supporting the Syrian refugees.

Speaking to journalists in a closed-door briefing in Brussels, an EU official said Italy has demanded that the bloc agree on a fund package for Rome and refuses to withdraw the monetary block on the funds allocated for Turkey unless the EU strikes a deal with Italy.

During the two-day EU summit being held today and tomorrow, leaders will try to convince Italy since the bloc wants to avoid further upsetting Ankara on the migrant deal that was signed in March 2016.

Turkey furious over EU 'hypocrisy'

Furthermore, Ankara harshly criticized the EU's "hypocritical" and "prejudiced" actions after the General Affairs Council said Turkey was moving farther away from Europe and introduced preconditions for upgrading the decades-old customs union previously scheduled to pass in first half of 2018.

The EU statement said Turkey's long-stalled accession negotiations - which officially began in 2005 - had "effectively come to a standstill."

"Once again, it's shown how the EU does not treat Turkey fairly or sincerely," the Foreign Ministry responded in a statement, describing the conclusion statement as "hypocritical and incoherent," which reflected the "prejudiced and unjust attitude" against Turkey.

EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik said the conclusions showed that the EU was "confused," with statements that "lacked vision" and were "full of contradictions."

In a short joint statement from EU Commission and Council leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was congratulated for being re-elected. The letter also said the bloc is looking to continue working with Turkey in key areas, including migration, security and counterterrorism, without mentioning the visa-liberalization, customs union or other fields Turkey expects to work on.

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