Italy fails to assure on Turkey's refugee aid package
Rome waiting for answers from EU Commission before approving contribution to 3 billion euro deal
31 Ocak 2016 Pazar 22:56
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday raised concerns about Italy’s commitment to help fund the EU’s 3 billion euro ($3.25 billion) aid package for Turkey during a trip to Berlin.
Following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Renzi said Italy was “willing to do its part” to support the plan to help Turkey host 2.5 million Syrians but would first wait for a response from the European Commission to questions about Rome’s contribution.
He told a news conference that Italy had agreed to the deal in November but was “waiting for answers from our friends at the European Commission.”
The EU and Turkey agreed on a plan on Nov. 29 to address the refugee crisis that saw more than a million refugees arrive in the EU last year, with the EU promising financial aid to improve the living conditions of refugees.
However, Italy is yet to approve its contribution amid a row with the commission over spending for refugees while Italy’s 2016 budget is under review.
Merkel has warned about the influx of refugees and urged swift progress on the implementation of the EU-Turkey plan.
“It needs to be urgently implemented, we need progress,” she said. “Nearly 2,000 migrants are coming each day through the Western Balkan route. For winter, this is a high number.”
The chancellor praised recent measures by Turkey, such as opening the labor market to Syrian refugees and introducing visas for Syrian nationals.
She called on EU partners to accept refugees through quotas.
Germany received a record 1.1 million refugees in 2015 and the numbers have put a strain on local authorities, triggering anti-refugee sentiments and increasing pressure on Merkel ahead of state elections in March.
Merkel has so far defended her open-door policy and has said a solution to the crisis can only be achieved by addressing the root causes through cooperation with Turkey.
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