Christos Stylianides./ Photo: Nueva Economía Fórum
Eduardo González. 18/03/2017
European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, reiterated yesterday the EU’s support for the Netherlands Government in its current diplomatic crisis with Turkey and said in any case that the agreement between Brussels and Ankara is “the only way to address the refugee crisis”.
The Turkish government threatened last Wednesday to unilaterally break the agreement concluded in March 2016 with the European Union, by which Ankara undertakes to readmit refugees arriving in Greece from their territory in exchange for economic aid and the exemption of Visa for its citizens.
The threat comes amid the tensions generated by the decision by Germany and the Netherlands to veto the participation of Turkish ministers in rallies to support the constitutional reforms intended to bestow the entire executive power on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Presidents Jean-Claude and Donald Tusk (European Commission and European Council, respectively), as leaders of Europe, and several representatives of the European Parliament have already shown their support to the Netherlands against any criticism from outside”, said Stylianides during the informative breakfast of Fórum Europa, organized by Nueva Economía Fórum at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid and presented by Spanish MEP Beatriz Becerra, vice-president of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament.
Commissioner Stylianides acknowledges that as a Greco-Cypriot he finds it “difficult to be pragmatic about Turkey
The agreement between the EU and Turkey on refugees was very “controversial”, but “we must be pragmatic and realistic and admit that there was no alternative solution to deal with this unprecedented crisis”, continued the commissioner to those attending the event, included the Secretary of State for Cooperation and Ibero-America, Fernando García Casas; the ambassador of Cyprus, Koula Sophianou; and the Ombudsman, Soledad Becerril.
“Let us not overestimate my Greek Cypriot origin, but believe me that sometimes I find it difficult to be pragmatic with Turkey”, he admitted. However, “Turkey already accommodates three million Syrian refugees and was the only way to address the situation”, he continued.
“Regardless of the obstacles, the agreement between the EU and Turkey has already begun to be implemented positively in collaboration with the Turkish authorities”, he added. The two sides “need this agreement to deal with this situation, and if I had to put a headline, I would say that we need them as they need us“, he concluded.