The bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said illegal immigration was stopped and many lives saved thanks to EU-Turkey refugee deal.

Josep Borrell holds a press conference within a visit to the headquarters of the EU’s IRINI naval operation on March 18, 2021, in Rome.
Josep Borrell holds a press conference within a visit to the headquarters of the EU’s IRINI naval operation on March 18, 2021, in Rome. (AFP)

The European Union should support Turkey for hosting more than four million refugees, the EU’s foreign policy chief said.

Josep Borrell made the remarks on Thursday after visiting the command centre of Operation Irini, the EU initiative to implement a UN arms embargo on Libya.

On the EU-Turkey refugee deal, Borrell said illegal immigration was stopped and many lives were saved thanks to the agreement.

“This agreement is still valid and its implementation should continue,” he added.

Underlining that Turkey hosts more than four million refugees, he said the EU should ease the country’s burden.

Most of the EU funding under this agreement goes directly to immigrants, not the Turkish government, he noted.

READ MORE: EU-Turkey refugee deal: Five years on

'Good momentum'

Earlier in the day, Borrell met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and held a press conference.

“On Turkey, also we have a momentum, a good momentum, following their exploratory talks with Greece,” Borrell said.

“I will present a report to the European Union leaders, where I will outline current trends and suggest a way ahead to consolidate a constructive attitude, while at the same time being ready to take measures if necessary,” he stressed.

Borrell and Maio will discuss the report with other European Union colleagues during the EU Foreign Ministers' meeting, which will be held on Monday.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Turkey hosts nearly four million refugees, more than any other country in the world. 

Ankara says it has so far spent more than $40 billion from its own resources for the refugees and has stressed that the EU should do more to share the burden.

 READ MORE: Turkey has become a key support to refugees during the pandemic

Source: AA