World Bulletin / News Desk
“For the German government, this is a joint success, both for Europe and for Turkey,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman told a news conference in Berlin Monday.
“After this agreement, far fewer people died in the Aegean Sea while trying to enter Greece,” Steffen Seibert said.
“As for the second important outcome of the agreement, the living conditions of more than two million refugees in Turkey, most of whom are Syrians, have significantly improved through various projects backed by the EU’s financial assistance,” Seibert added.
He underlined that Germany would continue to support the agreement.
In March 2016, EU and Turkey reached an agreement to take stricter measures against human smugglers and discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Although the plan has successfully reduced irregular migration flows and came as a significant relief for Merkel in domestic politics, the EU has failed to timely deliver the promised €3 billion ($3.7 billion) funding for refugees in Turkey.
According to the EU-Turkey agreement, European states have to mobilize an additional €3 billion ($3.7 billion) in funding by the end of 2018.
The agreement also promised acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership process and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, provided that Ankara fulfilled criteria set out by Brussels.
Despite recent political tensions between Ankara and European capitals, Merkel turned down opposition calls to suspend Turkey’s EU membership talks and advocated a policy of dialogue with Turkey.
EU leaders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are expected to meet at a summit set for March 26 in Varna, Bulgaria.