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EU budget chief: Less refugee money for Turkey

October 27, 2019

EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger has said the bloc should wind down its humanitarian payments to Turkey for looking after Syrian refugees. Instead, he said more money should be provided to Jordan and Lebanon.

Günther Oettinger
Image: picture-alliance/AA/D. Aydemir

Turkey should get less European money for looking after Syrian refugees, the European Union's budget commissioner, Günther Oettinger, said on Sunday.

Oettinger, a member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that he thought that "in the next tranche, the EU shouldn't make such high payments to Turkey as it has until now."

He argued that Turkey wouldn't be needing as much money because it was planning to resettle Syrian refugees in the "protective zone" it is currently trying to create in the Kurdish-occupied region of northern Syria.

He also said that many schools, hospitals and shelters had been built with the money already provided by the EU, so the financial need would no longer be as great.

"Furthermore, in future we have to offer greater to support to other countries like Jordan or Lebanon," he told the newspaper. "It makes more sense to give the people a permanent home and to finance human dignity than to give them no other choice but to come to us. Every place to live in Turkey or Jordan is less dangerous than the journey to Berlin, and cheaper."

The budget commissioner said that the EU had paid €6 billion ($6.6 billion) to aid organizations for refugees in Turkey since 2016.

Oettinger also welcomed German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's plan to set up an internationally protected security zone in northern Syria as a sign that the European Union was seizing the foreign policy initiative.

"After years of Europe's de facto absence from the world's crisis regions, AKK's proposal is a step towards more responsibility from Europeans on security questions," he said.

Some prominent members of the conservative CDU had earlier criticized Kramp-Karrenbauer for failing to discuss the proposal with the Social Democrats, their coalition partner, first.

bk/ng (Reuters, dpa)

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