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Bulgarian PM Borisov Accuses EU Of Not Paying Turkey In ‘Refugee Deal’

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (left) meets with Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan in Ankara on March 2.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (left) meets with Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan in Ankara on March 2.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has joined Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in blaming the European Union for the collapse of the 2016 refugee deal, following rising tensions in Syria.

The two addressed journalists in Ankara on March 2 after meeting to discuss a new wave of refugees that Turkey has released into the EU.

Erdogan justified "opening the gates" for thousands of refugees and accused the EU of not paying Turkey 6 billion euros ($6.68 billion) to house some 4 million Syrian refugees.

"We spent over 40 billion euros ($44.56 billion). The promised 6 billion euros -- they [Brussels] did not release," Erdogan said. "Now they say they will allocate 1 billion [euros]. Who are you lying to? We do not want this money anymore. We will find this money."

Borisov said the EU "voted this money for Turkey...I cannot understand why they were not given."

The European Commission insists it has paid the money out in full, albeit to refugee aid organizations and not directly to the Turkish state.

The EU has also signaled it is ready to invest several billion more euros in the coming years, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Germany would be willing to build refugee housing in Turkish-controlled areas within Syria.

On March 2, Turkish authorities released information that 18,000 migrants had already crossed into the EU.

"Nearly 1.5 million people have left their homes in Idlib and are close to the Turkish border. Unfortunately, EU countries cannot understand the burden that Turkey has been carrying for nine years," Erdogan said.

Merkel described Turkey's move as "unacceptable" and EU Migration Commissioner Margaritis Schinas said nobody could "blackmail or intimidate the EU."

Erdogan's office also said on March 2 that he spoke to Merkel over the phone, saying Europe must take a "fair share of the burden" of dealing with migrants.

He warned that more refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, would head toward the EU.

"There will be more. Soon, this number will be expressed in millions," Erdogan said.

Turkey is trying to hold off another mass influx of refugees from Syria, where government forces backed by Russian air power are trying to take the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.

With reporting by dpa
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