Germany vows to fulfil promises to Turkey on migration deal
Berlin supports the EU-Turkey migration deal and remains committed to realising its promises, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.
"We back the EU-Turkey deal and we will realize our commitments," state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Maas as saying while speaking in a joint press conference in Berlin with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.
Maas said migration was one of the bloc's urgent issues while Dendias urged countries affected by migration to display solidarity and implement the EU-Turkey deal, Anadolu said.
Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to "open the gates" for migrants to Europe if international support for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria, where renewed fighting in the province of Idlib in recent weeks has raised prospects of another wave of refugees at its’ borders, fails to materialise.
Ankara has called for a safe zone to ensure security on its border running east of the Euphrates River toward the Iraqi border. Turkey wants to control the zone and clear Kurdish militia, namely the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), from the border area.
"There is an expectation for the migration waves to increase to concerning levels," Dendias said.
Ankara agreed to curb the flow of migrants to Europe under a 2016 deal with Brussels, in return for billions of euros in aid.
According to the deal, the EU promised the allocation of €3bn in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, yet the visa restrictions still remain.