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Europe must support Turkey more: Mogherini

Published : Jan 26, 2016, 5:52 am IST
Updated : Jan 26, 2016, 5:52 am IST

Confident that Ankara will soon get $3.2 billion refugee aid despite delay

Confident that Ankara will soon get $3.2 billion refugee aid despite delay

The European Union has to do more to support Turkey in its work caring for refugees, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday after talks with Turkish officials.

Ms Mogherini also said at a press conference in Ankara that it was extremely important to begin the transition process in Syria with better humanitarian conditions on the ground.

She said she shared her concerns with the Turkish foreign minister and EU affairs minister about the situation in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, where observers say more than 150 civilians have been killed during security operations against militants, and urg-ed a return to peace talks and a ceasefire.

Ms Mogherini on Monday expressed confidence that Turkey would soon receive a package of $3.2 billion for mainly Syrian refugees, despite a delay of almost two months since the funds were agreed. She said discussions were ongoing on the disbursement of the funds but played down reports they were being held up by disagreements.

The financial aid is the centrepiece of a deal agreed with Ankara on November 29 for the EU to step up support for Syrian and other refugees in Turkey in exchange for the Turkish authorities cutting the illegal flow of migrants to Europe. “The talks are ongoing, I am very much confident that the amount that was decided will be there in a reasonable time,” Ms Mogherini said after talks with Turkish ministers in Ankara.

Media reports have suggested that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in particular, was blocking the disbursement of the funds to Turkey. But Ms Mogherini said she wanted to play down “this dramatic approach” over the issue, emphasising that the funds were “not pocket money.”

“We are doing the preparatory work for spending this money in an appropriate way. Because again it’s not pocket money, it’s money that goes to projects,” she said. “The commission is carrying out all the assessments of the needs and projects,” Ms Mogherini said.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sought to also urge calm over the delay, saying: “We don’t take it personally. But any delay is affecting daily life of the refugees, schooling and medical needs,” he added.

Location: Turkey, Ankara