Germany expects Turkey to uphold an EU agreement to prevent migrants from reaching the bloc, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, AFP reported.
The comments come as Ankara sought to maintain pressure on Western countries over the Syrian conflict, warning that “millions” of migrants would soon head toward Europe.
Merkel’s spokesman said Monday a 2016 migrant deal between Turkey and the EU was still in place and should be adhered to.
“We are convinced of the value of the agreement, and we expect it to be upheld,” Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday.
He added that if Ankara is dissatisfied with the deal, then it should address grievances in discussions directly with the EU.
The deal was agreed after a migrant crisis in 2015 saw waves of refugees arriving on European shores via Turkey.
The migrant deal calls for the EU to pay a total of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) to help Turkey accommodate the refugees and hold them back from EU borders.
So far 3.2 billion euros have already been paid out, Seibert said.
Turkey now hosts some 4 million refugees — the majority of them Syrians — but has called for the EU to provide additional support for hosting the migrants.
A fresh surge of migrants has arrived on its border with Greece in recent days after an escalation of fighting in Syria’s Idlib province between Turkey and Russian-backed Syrian forces.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned he no longer feels bound by the agreement and has opened Turkey’s doors to the EU.
“Hundreds of thousands have crossed, soon it will reach millions,” he said Monday.
But the numbers remain in dispute.
German’s foreign ministry cited a report from the International Organization for Migration that said between 7,000 and 13,000 people remained camped on the Turkish side.
“So far very few people have made irregular crossings,” a German foreign ministry spokesman said.