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Turkey: EU must take ‘concrete steps’ on refugee crisis

Syrians pass through Cilvegozu border gate to reach their hometown before Eid Al-Fitr in Reyhanli, Hatay on 21 June 2017 [Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency]
Syrians refugees [Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s presidential spokesman has called on the European Union on Tuesday to take concrete steps and fulfil its promises.

“Turkey fulfilled its responsibilities within the March 18 Turkey-EU agreement,” Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter, referring to the 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey.

“It is time for Europe to take concrete steps, which will pave the way for a new page in relations. It is possible but requires leadership and determination,” he stressed.

The 2016 deal was aimed at discouraging irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Turkey has been one of the main country which has been welcoming Syrian refugees - Cartoon [MiddleEastMonitor]

Turkey has been one of the main country which has been welcoming Syrian refugees –
Cartoon [MiddleEastMonitor]

The agreement has been successful in stemming refugee flows, but the EU’s reluctance to take in refugees from Turkey, and bureaucratic hurdles in transferring promised funds for refugees, have led to sharp criticism from Turkish politicians.

READ: Turkey says Greece firing live ammunition at border; Greece denies

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has since ballooned to nearly 4 million, along with a new refugee wave of 1 million or more coming from the northwest Syrian province of Idlib, Turkish officials have pointed out.

In opening the borders late last month, Turkish authorities reiterated their longstanding complaint that the EU has failed to uphold its pledges under the 2016 deal.

Escalating attacks by the Assad regime and its allies in Idlib, Syria has sent a fresh wave of refugees toward Turkey’s border.

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