World Bulletin / News Desk
The foreign ministers of Turkey and Lithuania on Wednesday discussed a range of regional issues, including a recent deal between the EU and Ankara, ahead of a nuclear summit that begins here later this week.
“Turkey has begun to block the flow of illegal migrants into Europe. There is a visible decrease in the number of illegal migrants passing to Europe over Turkey,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Cavusoglu and Linas Antanas Linkevicius also discussed NATO’s role in the flow of migrants, the statement read.
Turkey and the EU reached an agreement that went into effect March 20 to stop refugee flows into Europe.
Under the deal, refugees who illegally enter Europe will not be allowed to resettle in the EU, and all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of March 20 will be returned to Turkey.
In return, an equal number of Syrian refugees in Turkish refugee camps will be distributed among EU countries with a limit of 72,000, at which point the exchange will stop or the EU will determine a new quota, according to Turkısh officials.
More than 800,000 refugees from North Africa and the Middle East crossed into Europe in 2015 -- Turkey's Coast Guard captured 91,611 illegal immigrants, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency.
Upwards of 5,500 refugees were captured in January and nearly 9,000 more in February.
The total number of refugees captured by Turkey since the beginning of the year to March 20 was 22,000 -- 7,842 were caught in March.
The March numbers fell from the previous month for the first time since the refugee crisis began in 2015.
With 2.6 million, Turkey is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees and has spent $20 billion, according to Turkish authorities.
Cavusoglu and Linkevicius also emphasized a need for cooperation between Turkey and Europe to fight terrorism.
Alongside several other Turkish ministers, Cavusoglu accompanied Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the U.S. capital to attend the summit that begins Thursday.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mart 2016, 11:34