Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the European Union for failing to pay the promised three billion euros in aid to Ankara as part of the deal they signed in March to contain the refugee influx in Europe.
“What’s delivered to us so far is 179 million euros. What’s promised is three billion euros,” Erdogan said in televised remarks on Monday.
“They promise but do not deliver,” added the Turkish president. “The year is coming to its end.”
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has dismissed Erdogan’s claim, arguing that the EU-Turkey deal includes stipulations requiring disbursements to Turkey to be based on projects, and not payments as a lump sum.
On Saturday, in another strong message to the EU, Erdogan said, “They should know that that game is over … It’s up to EU to decide whether to continue on its path with or without Turkey...They should not try to throw this responsibility on our shoulders through their cunning tactics.”
Turkey and the EU have been engaged in longstanding negotiations over Turkish membership in the EU in return for implementing political reforms.
The EU membership issue was sidetracked in March into the deal with Ankara.
Under the accord, Ankara and the EU agreed on billions of euros in financial aid to Turkey and the lifting of short-term visa requirements for Turks in exchange for cutting the flow of refugees into Europe.
The visa waiver deal for 77 million Turks was agreed to go into force in June, but the date was later postponed to October.
“October is important in terms of our relations with the EU. As you all know, the visa-free regime that the European Union promised to Turkey is supposed to enter into force this month,” Erdogan said.
“There is no need to beat around the bush or engage in diplomatic acrobatics…This attitude is an explicit manifestation of the fact that the European Union does not want to keep its promise to Turkey,” he added.
Meanwhile, incoming data on the routes taken by refugees into Europe indicate that the deal has almost completely stopped refugees arriving in EU states from Turkey.