'EU must keep pledges on migration deal, as Turkey did'
EU wants better cooperation with Turkey on migration, but it must keep its promises from 2016, says Turkish foreign minister
Turkey sees that the EU wants to forge better cooperation on migration, but it must keep its promises, as Turkey has done, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.
“We said that migration is a humanitarian issue and our cooperation should continue. Also, we laid out our expectations from the EU,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the capital Ankara after meeting visiting officials from the European Union and EU heavyweights Germany and France.
The gathering was fruitful, with a general discussion of migration and Turkish-EU relations, said Cavusoglu after meeting with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, and French Ambassador to Turkey Charles Fries.
Fries attended in lieu of French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who had to cancel after Thursday’s attack on French police in Paris.
Cavusoglu stressed how Turkey is implementing the requirements of the 2016 refugee deal with the EU and reiterated Turkey’s expectation that the EU do the same.
Under the deal, the EU not only has obligations on migration, but also ones concerning Turkey’s accession negotiations, the Customs Union update, and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, he added.
Cavusoglu also criticized remarks by French President Emanuel Macron on Turkey’s migration management and policy.
“Instead of such accusations, we should focus on solving the problem,” he said.
Under the March 2016 Turkey-EU refugee deal, the EU pledged €6 billion ($6.6 billion) in aid to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, but as of this June, only €2.22 billion has been disbursed.
It additionally pledged visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to EU Schengen states, talks on updating the Customs Union trade deal, and a re-energized commitment to Turkey’s accession process.
It has fulfilled none of those.
Falling short on pledges, fighting terrorism
The EU member states also pledged that for every Syrian returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU as part of a resettlement plan.
But the pace of returns to Turkey from the Greek islands under the agreement has been slow largely due to lengthy legal processes and administrative problems in Greece.
The EU member states only accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey since 2016.
Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.
Cavusoglu also said Germany, France, and the U.K. have taken some measures against the terrorist group PKK, but they fall short of what is needed.
These countries also have not done enough to support the fight against FETO, the terrorist group which attempted a bloody coup against Turkey in 2016, he added.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.