European Union agrees to release another €3 billion in refugee deal with Turkey

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Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) walks with officials as she arrives to address a press conference at The Europa building in Brussels on June 29, 2018, on the sidelines of the European Union leaders' summit, without Britain, to discuss Brexit and eurozone reforms. / AFP PHOTO / Ludovic MARIN

European Union leaders on Friday agreed to release the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche in assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“We have agreed to allocate the second tranche for Turkey,“ German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters when leaving an EU summit that continued into the early morning hours of Friday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said after the announcement he hoped the payment would be made to Turkey without delay.

“Hopefully they will take lessons from the problems and bureaucracy of the first tranche and will implement the second more quickly this time,” he said.

In March 2016 the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The EU had pledged €6 billion ($7.44 billion) in funding for the refugees and promised to mobilize the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche by the end of 2018.

Merkel said Turkey has done much for the more than 3 million Syrian refugees it has hosted since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

On Thursday, Italy had raised objections to releasing the additional €3 billion in aid.

The Italian government demanded stronger solidarity from its EU partners regarding migration.

“The European Council agrees on launching the second tranche of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey …” Thursday’s summit conclusions said.

Turkey hosts some 3.5 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world. Ankara says it has spent around $25 billion helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

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