President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the European Union for failing to fulfill its pledge to provide funding for migrants and refugees in Turkey as part of the 2016 migration pact while allocating billions of euros to Greece.
Speaking at the International Migration Conference, Erdoğan said the 6 billion euros ($7.29 billion) promised by March 18 in the refugee deal has still yet to be paid in full.
“The EU granted Greece 3 billion euros of support for 100,000 migrants, but it has made no such move for the 4 million migrants in Turkey,” Erdoğan told the conference held by the 9 Eylül University in western Izmir province.
In March 2016, Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement to reduce the number of migrants taking the dangerous Aegean Sea route to Europe and to find a solution for the influx of migrants heading to EU countries.
According to the deal, Turkey was promised a total of 6 billion euros ($7.30 billion) in financial aid, which was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and to be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian migrants. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also a perk of the agreement. In addition, the customs union between Turkey and the EU was to be updated. In exchange for these promises, Turkey took responsibility for discouraging migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of Syrian migrants living in Turkey.
Despite significant developments controlling migration traffic, Turkey has frequently complained that the EU has not fully delivered on its commitments stated in the deal and criticized the international community for its indifference to the migrant crisis. Accordingly, although the first stage of funding was provided to Turkey, the EU has yet to fulfill the second stage or its other obligations such as establishing the visa-free deal for Turkish citizens and updating the customs union. The customs union is a trade agreement that came into effect on Dec. 31, 1995, following the March 6, 1995, Decision of the European Community-Turkey Association Council to implement an association between the two parties in which goods may travel between the two entities without any customs restrictions.
Regarding the ongoing migration crisis and the Syrian conflict, Erdoğan said they have shown that putting up walls and wire fences or sinking boats is no solution to the problems.
“Security forces of our neighbor, Greece, pierce the boats carrying migrants, causing them to die. We will continue to inform the globe about Greek security forces’ inhumane activities,” Erdoğan said.