Refugee influx if EU fails to abide by accord, Turkish FM

'Work permits and visa restrictions show Ankara is serious'

20 January, 20:22

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

    (by Cristoforo Spinella)

    ISTANBUL - Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on Wednesday that if the EU did not help refugees in Turkey and cooperate with his country, ''these people will come to you''. Concerned and irritated by the obstacles put down by Brussels for the 3 billion euros in funding for an agreement on migrants and refugees, Turkey stressed that it had already spent 8 billion euros to manage 2.5 million Syrians who had crossed its border. ''The method that they will use is an internal issue for the EU,'' said Minister for European Affairs Volkan Bozkir on a visit to Strasbourg. He urged Brussels to resolve its internal problems and maintain the promises it made in late November, since Turkey has done its part as much as possible so far.

    Ankara has for the first time granted work permits to refugees and tightened visa requirements for Syrians, which it holds will substantially limit the influx to Europe. The work permit regulation, authorized on Friday, foresees that those who have been in the country for at least six months can request a permit in the province in which they are registered as refugees, giving them access to services and better protection against exploitation. This will serve as an incentive not to attempt the often-fatal Aegean crossing to Greece. The other measure is the restoring of a visa requirement for Syrians arriving by sea of air, which came into force on January 8 after six years of unrestricted circulation. The bureaucratic obstacle aims to curb the exodus of refugees currently staying in Lebanon and Jordan, who leave for Turkey due to the difficult conditions in those countries and the possibility to attempt the crossing to Europe. It is also a way for curb arrivals from Egypt and Libya, among whom Ankara holds there are many jihadists.

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