The unelected European Commission is set to approve an additional three billion euros in funding for Turkey, the second part of a deal whereby they make efforts to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East.
European Union (EU) officials made the announcement Wednesday, despite Turkey moving in an ever more authoritarian direction, periodically threatening to “flood” the EU with migrants, and acting increasingly aggressively toward Cyprus and Greece.
“Today’s decision establishes the legal framework for the second tranche of €3 billion… mobilising €1 billion from the EU budget,” an EU statement announced Wednesday.
“The first tranche of the Facility set up in 2016 was made up of €1 billion from the EU budget and €2 billion from Member States’ contributions,” it added.
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At the end of last year, the bloc’s Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said the EU remained “committed to” giving Turkish citizens visa-free travel in the bloc, as well as handing over the extra three billion euros.
“The EU-Turkey Statement continues to deliver results with irregular and dangerous arrivals remaining 97 per cent down on the period before the Statement became operational,” the Commission claimed this week.
Mr. Avramopoulos said in a statement Wednesday he was “pleased to report that the €3 billion” was sent to Turkey in 2017 “meaning the EU lived up to its promise in full”.
“Now, the Union and its Member States need to fund the second tranche of €3 billion of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey,” he added.
“I would like to stress that our cooperation with Turkey is key to address common challenges. The rapprochement of Turkey and Europe is a long-term engagement that has started some years ago between our citizens.”
PICS: 850,000 migrants in Turkey Paid Cash by European Union
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Just a few months earlier, however, in March 2017, a Turkish minister threatened to sabotage the deal and direct tens of thousands of migrants into the EU every month.
Süleyman Soylu suggested sending 15,000 migrants each month in retaliation for Europe blocking Islamist Turkish government figures holding rallies in European countries ahead of a referendum in Turkey.
Earlier in the year, he promised to “open the gates” to hundreds of thousands of migrants who could be transported into Europe by “bus” and even “plane” unless his demands were met in the lead up to the negotiations.