Brussels, Ankara should realistically negotiate refugee issue, says Hungarian foreign minister

A man carries his daughter who is bundled up against harsh winter conditions at the border between Turkey and Greece in Edirne, Turkey.
A man carries his daughter who is bundled up against harsh winter conditions at the border between Turkey and Greece in Edirne, Turkey. (Belal Khaled / TRTWorld)

Hungarian foreign minister said Thursday the EU and Turkey should negotiate on the asylum-seekers on the Greece-Turkish border.

“Turkey and the EU should ink a new agreement,” Peter Szijjarto told in a press conference.

Szijjarto said the pressure on the Turkish-Greek border would not decrease unless Brussels took Turkey’s requests and concerns seriously.

He added that he had a phone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and they discussed energy security and the refugee crisis.

Turkey prevented a total of 455,000 asylum seekers who tried to cross Europe last year, Szijjarto said, adding that Turkey would face another migration flow from Syria.

Reminding the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee agreement, he said the EU has not paid the full amount on over $6 billion in refugee aid to Turkey.

He said Brussels and Ankara should realistically negotiate the refugee issue.

The EU-Turkey agreement has been successful in stemming refugee flows in recent years, 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.

Under the 2016 deal, the EU was to provide $6.9 billion financial assistance, while Turkey agreed to stop irregular migrants heading to Europe. But Turkey says less than half of that amount has been given.

Ankara also criticized its European partners for not fully implementing the 2016 agreement and backing away from their political commitments, including negotiations on upgrading the Customs Union.

Turkey currently hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.

Last month, Turkey opened its borders to Europe for asylum seekers accusing the EU of failing to keeps its part of a 2016 refugee deal.

Ankara also warned that due to incessant attacks on civilians in Idlib, Syria, 1 million refugees were moving toward Turkey’s borders.

With 3.7 million Syrian migrants in Turkey already, more than any other country in the world, Ankara says it cannot absorb another refugee wave.

Source: AA