Turkey is not doing enough to stem the flow of refugees crossing into the European Union, less than two months after both sides committed to work together on the issue, a top EU official said.
“We are a long way from being satisfied,” European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters in Amsterdam on Thursday. “We will continue discussing ways of improving the effectiveness of their operation.”
Faced with its largest influx of refugees since World War II, the EU is pushing Turkey to significantly reduce the number of migrants crossing its borders and entering the 28-nation bloc, mainly over the Aegean Sea into Greece. While the EU has offered Turkey rewards for bolstering its borders — including a package of 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) and a relaunch of Turkey’s EU membership bid — the bloc’s leaders are insisting they need to see progress.
While the first results of Turkey’s stepped-up action are encouraging, “it is quite clear that over the last couple of weeks the figures have remained relatively high, so there is still a lot of work to do,” said Timmermans, who will discuss the matter with authorities in Turkey on Monday.
Almost two million refugees fleeing civil war and violence in Syria and the wider Middle East and Africa were residing in Turkey last month, the United Nations refugee agency said. Since the turn of the year Greece has seen as many as 5,500 refugees cross to its islands and mainland, mainly from Turkey, according to the agency’s data.