BRUSSELS, Oct. 16 (EUROPE PRESS) –
The European Commission has caused Turkey to try to use immigration cooperation “as a good instrument to negotiate or even haggle” to the bloc and has argued to maintain cooperation with Ankara and fully implement its agreement to curb migration flows.
“Immigration is an issue that is not offered to be used as an instrument of negotiation or even to haggle,” said Immigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos at a press conference when asked what the Commission will do if Ankara finally sends one million Syrian refugees to the security zone that they want to create in northeastern Syria to justify their offensive.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Europe with “opening the doors” to refugees if they censored their offensive, a threat “unacceptable” according to a senior EU official.
The Twenty-eight have condemned the Turkish offensive and agreed to paralyze arms sales to Ankara, while making it clear that they will not provide funds for stabilization or the development of areas “where the rights of the local population are ignored or violated”, in Clear reference to your security zone, the commissioner has remembered again.
“The European Union remains committed to continuing to fully implement” the migration pact that the EU and Turkey sealed in March 2016, the commissioner stressed, insisting that it is “a shared commitment”.
The EU agreed to provide 6 billion euros of aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey and Ankara pledged to accept all immigrants arriving irregularly to Greece from Turkey. In turn, the bloc undertook to relocate Syrian refugees in Europe who were returned to Turkey from Greece.
In the face of Turkey's continuing criticism that the block does not provide enough help for refugees, the commissioner has stressed the commitment of the block to help respond to the humanitarian and Syrian refugee needs “depending on the evolution of the crisis.”
Regarding the support package of 6.00 billion euros, which “is unprecedented”, Avramopolous has insisted that the block continues to “fulfill” its commitments to support Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Thus, he has assured that 97% of the total funds have already been committed for 95 concrete projects that are benefiting more than 1.6 million refugees, more than 3,500 million have been hired and 2,600 million have already been disbursed, specifying that “new projects” will be carried out by 2025.
In terms of the flows, the Community Executive recognizes in a report published on Wednesday a “significant” increase of 29% in the number of arrivals to the Greek islands from the beginning of the year until October 6 through the Aegean Sea compared to the same period in 2018 (47,500), although still far from the 2015 figures when the migration crisis broke out.
He also acknowledges that the returns of irregular immigrants from Greece to Turkey under the agreement remains “a continuing challenge.” Athens has barely managed to return 1,908 immigrants under the agreement, partly due to “long” asylum procedures in Greece.
In turn, 18 EU countries have instead relocated more than 25,000 refugees since April 2016, efforts that the Commission urges to “maintain”.