German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said EU member states should assume more responsibility in creating a European solution for the refugee crisis as she praised Turkey for hosting more than 3 million Syrian refugees in its borders.
"This challenge is not something one or several member states can address alone; rather, this is a task for all of us," Merkel stressed during her address at the German Parliament, the Bundestag, and said the leaders reached a common understanding on the need for closer cooperation.
She also underlined the importance of an EU decision last week to allocate an additional 3 billion euros in assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
"We can criticize Turkey on many other issues, but what Turkey has done by providing shelter to refugees that have fled civil war in Syria is a big contribution. And that deserves the appreciation," she stressed.
Amid criticism from opposition politicians, Merkel underlined that the EU's financial aid was not transferred to Turkey's state budget but specifically used for projects to improve the conditions of Syrian refugees.
She praised the success of EU-Turkey cooperation and vowed to clinch agreements with African countries to control irregular migrant flows through the Mediterranean.
In 2016, Merkel championed the EU-Turkey refugee agreement with the hope of stopping the refugee influx after nearly a million refugees arrived in Germany.
The EU had pledged 6 billion euros in funding for the refugees and promised to mobilize the second 3-billion-euro tranche by the end of 2018.The agreement has been successful in significantly reducing the number of crossings in the Aegean Sea and preventing the loss of many lives.Turkey hosts some 3.5 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world. Ankara says it has spent around $25 billion helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war