Merkel: We would ‘fully implement’ EU-Turkey deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Friday to fully implement a key agreement reached between the EU and Turkey in 2016 to address the refugee crisis.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, at the end of a two-day summit of European leaders, Merkel reaffirmed the European Union’s commitments towards Turkey.

“We want to do everything to really implement this agreement with all of its facets,” she stressed.

Merkel welcomed the decision of EU leaders on Friday to release the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche in assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey, under the 2016 agreement.

“It is a very important signal now that we can finally transfer the second tranche of €3 billion to Turkey, of course on a project-based program, for Syrian refugees,” she said.

The chancellor praised Turkey’s efforts for more some 3.5 million Syrian refugees it has hosted since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

Turkey is doing a tremendous job here,” she stressed.

In 2016 Merkel had championed the EU-Turkey refugee agreement with the hope of stopping the refugee influx, after nearly a million refugees arrived in Germany.

The EU had pledged €6 billion ($7.44 billion) in funding for the refugees, and promised to mobilize the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche by the end of 2018.

The agreement has been successful in significantly reducing the number of crossing the Aegean Sea, and preventing the loss of many lives on the sea.

But the EU’s bureaucratic hurdles and delays in the mobilization of the promised funds has led to sharp criticism by Turkish officials.

Ankara also criticized its European partners for not fully implementing the 2016 agreement, and backing away from their political commitments.

As part of the deal, the EU had promised to accelerate talks on Turkey’s EU membership and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.

Source: Anadolu

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