Visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with the European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, to discuss the handling of the migration crisis in Athens this morning.
Avramopoulos, whose friendship with Erdogan dates from the time he was Mayor of Athens and Erdogan was Mayor of Istanbul, said that it is positive that the joint EU-Turkey Statement on readmission is being enforced.
“We are dedicated to its implementation, which has already produced positive results,» the European Commissioner said.
“ On 7 March, 2016, Turkey agreed to accept the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back all irregular migrants intercepted in Turkish waters. Turkey and the EU also agreed to continue stepping up measures against migrant smugglers and welcomed the establishment of the NATO activity on the Aegean Sea. At the same time Turkey and the EU recognise that further, swift and determined efforts are needed,” the statement read.
The agreement provides that for every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria.
Asked to respond to Erdogan’s statement at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday that the EU is not keeping its side of the deal regarding the amount of financial assistance, Avramopoulos summarily dismissed the claim.
“The EU continues to implement what has been agreed upon, and will continue to cooperate with and support Turkey in hosting over three million refugees,” the Commissioner said.
The financial assistance terms of the deal, as enshrined in the statement, are as follows:
“The EU, in close cooperation with Turkey, will further speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated 3 billion euros under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and ensure funding of further projects for persons under temporary protection identified with swift input from Turkey before the end of March. A first list of concrete projects for refugees, notably in the field of health, education, infrastructure, food and other living costs, that can be swiftly financed from the Facility, will be jointly identified within a week. Once these resources are about to be used to the full, and provided the above commitments are met, the EU will mobilise additional funding for the Facility of an additional 3 billion euro up to the end of 2018.”