Senior European Union officials visiting Ankara have said they want to see the full implementation of a joint action plan with Turkey agreed last November.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn were speaking at a joint news conference with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and EU Minister Volkan Bozkir at Ankara Palace on Monday.
“We wish the full implementation of the action plan. For the EU, implementation of it means giving support to Turkey,” said Mogherini.
On Nov. 29, the EU promised €3 billion ($3.28 billion) in aid to Turkey to support projects that would improve the living conditions of refugees in the country and address the problems of unchecked refugee movements into Europe.
“I believe that the allocated money will arrive within a reasonable time. We are doing preparatory work to spend this money,” Mogherini said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said: “This is not money that we take personally. The delay in money affects the quality of life of refugees in Turkey.”
Turkey currently hosts 2.5 million Syrian and 300,000 Iraqi refugees.
Commissioner Hahn said the initiative that Turkey took had a “vital importance”. “We do not have time to lose. It is important to give Turkey significant support,” added Hahn.
Mogherini said the meeting was important to accelerate strategic cooperation with Turkey, adding that the country was a “global player”.
She added that a “comprehensive transition” should be achieved in Syria, where the war will enter its sixth year in March, leaving more than 250,000 people dead.
“We want the Syrian people to be in a better position in their homelands,” said Mogherini, adding that EU’s humanitarian efforts will play a key role there.
Mogherini said defeating Daesh in the region will be tool for achieving this. She described Daesh as a “common threat”.
Bozkir reiterated Turkey that Turkey would continue to fight terrorist organizations which threaten the country’s international security, particularly the PKK and Daesh.
About the possible Syria talks in Geneva, Cavusoglu said: “The cease-fire should be ensured as soon possible [in Syria].”
The talks are scheduled to start in Geneva this week, but disagreements persist among participants, such as the U.S. and Russia, about which opposition groups should be invited.
“The distinction between the terrorist organizations and moderate opposition needs to be made well. Terrorist organizations should not be in the negotiation committee,” said Cavusoglu.
He said the attendance of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on the opposition side at the talks will “disrupt” the process.
YPG is the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish rebel group the People’s Democratic Union (PYD), which is affiliated to the PKK.
Mogherini said: “We are trusting Staffan de Mistura [the UN’s special envoy for Syria]. I am sure that he will find a way to start the talks in Geneva soon.”