German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has stressed the need to make a new agreement on refugees with Ankara, Deutsche Welle reported on Monday, citing the German Die Welt daily.
Mass drew attention to the enormous refugee burden on Turkey in an interview he gave to Die Welt.
“We need to update our cooperation with Turkey with respect to migration,” the German minister said.
Maas argued that updating the refugee agreement Turkey and the European Union signed in 2016 would be to the benefit of the EU, adding, “Despite all problems with the Turkish government, we have to appreciate the significant migrant burden this country has taken on for us.”
Mass reminded that Turkey has been hosting approximately 4 million refugees.
As part of a new agreement, Turkey would also have to be provided with additional funds from the EU. “I don’t want to put any numbers on it, but it’s perfectly clear that it will not work without money,” said Maas.
Mass also stated that EU member countries are not ready for a proposed rescue mission off the Libyan coast.
“Even if new a mission is launched, we can’t welcome every migrant into Europe,” he said, stressing the need for combatting the factors that cause people to flee their homeland in the first place.
Turkey and the EU had agreed in 2016 on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. According to the deal, the EU had promised the allocation of 6 billion euros in aid to Turkey to be provided in two installments, which would be used for projects to help migrants.
Despite the deal, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly criticized EU officials for failing to provide Turkey with sufficient support to ease the country’s huge refugee population.
Erdoğan was accused last year of using migrants as bargaining chips by pushing them towards the Greek border.