EU denies underpaying Turkey on migrant deal after broadside from Erdoğan - Euronews

The European Union has lived up to its side of an agreement signed with Turkey to reduce the flow of irregular migrants across the Aegean Sea to Greece, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said on Thursday.

Bertaud’s statement came in response to a broadside launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said Turkey had only received between $3 billion and $4 billion of the 6 billion euros promised in the 2016 deal.

"We trust that we can continue this work in good faith with our Turkish partners," Euronews quoted Bertaud as saying.

She said the EU is "providing substantial support to improve the living conditions and protection standards of Syrian refugees in Turkey. To date, the EU has allocated 5.6 billion euros out of the 6 billion that was agreed, with the remaining balance due to be allocated shortly."

Erdoğan’s threat to “open the gates” of refugees comes after months of rising discontent in cash-strapped Turkey over the presence of at least 3.6 million refugees from Syria and many more from other countries.

Turkey has already been accused of breaching international humanitarian law by transporting undocumented migrants across the border to Syria, which it denies.

Last week, the Syrian government’s assault on the last rebel-held province of Idlib sent thousands fleeing to Turkey’s border, raising concerns that a new wave of migration is imminent.

On Thursday, Erdoğan announced plans to use a proposed “safe zone” under discussion in northern Syria to resettle as many as 1 million refugees. The safe zone under discussion was proposed as a solution for Turkey’ s security concerns over Syrian Kurdish militias that control the territory across its border.