The refugee deal between the European Union and Turkey, also known as the March 18 statement, helped halt illegal immigration, while many lives were saved thanks to the agreement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday.
Since the accord, the number of migrants and refugees arriving in Greece has fallen sharply.
In 2015, at the height of the crisis, 856,000 crossed the Aegean Sea. This figure dropped to 173,000 the next year and to only 30,000 in 2017.
In 2020, likely because of the coronavirus pandemic, just 10,000 crossed.
The EU should support Turkey for hosting more than 4 million refugees, Borrell highlighted, speaking after visiting the command center of Operation Irini, the EU initiative to implement a U.N. arms embargo on Libya.
"This agreement is still valid and its implementation should continue," he added.
Most of the EU funding under this agreement goes directly to immigrants, not the Turkish government, he noted.
Earlier in the day, Borrell met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and held a press conference.
"On Turkey, also we have a momentum, a good momentum, following their exploratory talks with Greece," Borrell said.
"I will present a report to the European Union leaders where I will outline current trends and suggest a way ahead to consolidate a constructive attitude while at the same time being ready to take measures if necessary," he stressed.
Borrell and Maio will discuss the report with other European Union colleagues during the EU foreign ministers' meeting, which will be held Monday.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara says it has so far spent more than $40 billion (TL 290.89 billion) from its own resources for the refugees and has stressed that the EU should do more to share the burden.
The European Union's asylum policy fails to meet international protection standards, several human rights organizations argued on Thursday on the five-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey migration agreement.
The organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Oxfam, said the bloc's containment policies at the external borders of the EU were often in breach of human rights.
While Turkey escalates efforts to rescue migrants, Greece makes headlines for its illegal pushback and mistreatment of the migrants.
Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. It also accuses the EU of turning a blind eye to what it says is a blatant abuse of human rights.
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