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EU commissioner to sign $840 million support package for refugees in Turkey

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The European commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement will sign a 781 million euro ($840 million) support package for refugees in Turkey during his visit to the Turkish capital, the EU executive body announced on Tuesday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The European Commission announced in a statement that Oliver Varhelyi will travel to Ankara on Wednesday and Thursday.

Varhelyi will “discuss bilateral relations and cooperation with Türkiye,” the statement said.

According to the EU, Varhelyi will have talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Trade Minister Ömer Bolat, Minister of Family and Social Services Mahinur Özdemir Göktaş, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar and Minister of Industry and Technology Mehmet Fatih Kaçır.

He will also sign “a €781 million contract providing EU funds for a social safety net for the most vulnerable refugees,” the commission added.

Turkey has become the world’s leading host country for refugees, with 3.6 million individuals seeking shelter, according to a recent UNHCR report.

Turkey and the EU signed a “statement of cooperation” in 2016 that stipulated Turkey would take measures to stop irregular migrants from traveling to the Greek islands from its shores; that all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey to the Greek islands and whose applications for asylum were declared inadmissible be returned to Turkey; and that for every Syrian returned from the islands, EU Member states would accept one refugee who had waited inside Turkey. In exchange, Turkey would receive €6 billion to improve the humanitarian situation faced by refugees in the country, and Turkish nationals would be granted visa-free travel to Europe.

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.

EU leaders, on the other hand, have accused Erdoğan of using migrants as bargaining chips by pushing them towards the Greek border.

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