Commissioner Várhelyi’s keynote speech at the event “Migratory flows and regional challenges: Türkiye’s way forward on migration”

© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, EU commissioner for enlargement and neghborhood policy, Oliver Varhelyi (R) addresses media after meeting with Chairman of the council of ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zoran Tegeltija, in Sarajevo, on October 9, 2020.© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, EU commissioner for enlargement and neghborhood policy, Oliver Varhelyi (R) addresses media after meeting with Chairman of the council of ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zoran Tegeltija, in Sarajevo, on October 9, 2020.

Dear Excellencies,

Ambassador Faruk Kaymakci,

President of the Presidency of Migration Management Savas Ünlü,

IKV Chairman Ayhan Zeytinoglu,

Very pleased and happy to be here at this event hosted by the IKV,

happy to see very good friends, Vice – Chancellor Spindelegger,

and also, I am happy to see that the room is full which shows the importance of the topic we are discussing today.

It is my pleasure to address you today on the issue of migratory flows and regional challenges and in that to talk about our partnership with Türkiye and also our partnership with our implementing partners like ICMPD.

Let me start by congratulating the President of Türkiye, President Erdogan for winning the elections. We are hoping for the best for the new Turkish Government. We have high hopes for the next years to come.

The European Union looks forward to continuing building the EU-Türkiye strategic relationship despite all the well-known challenges. It is of course and it has always been and will continue to be of historic importance for both of us: the EU and Türkiye. Europe is where it is; Türkiye is where it is:

We are dependent on one other. I think this is a very important wisdom that we should never forget.

We need each other for our shared prosperity and stability.

We need each other for the benefit of our people.

We need cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship and partnership for that.

We need a stable and secure Eastern Mediterranean region.

At the time of immense geopolitical challenges to our economies and societies this is ever more important.

We remain confident that Türkiye will continue to make a significant contribution to this as a candidate country, as a key regional partner, as a key NATO ally, and also as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia.

Türkiye has played a pivotal role in the global food security through the Black Sea Grain Initiative. I do hope that this initiative will continue. We count on the relentless effort of the Turkish diplomacy.

We will continue to be committed to remain a reliable and predictable partner of Türkiye. We want to seize the emerging opportunities. And we want to be constructive to address thecommon challenges together in partnership. But we also see difficulties, difficult times, – just before the elections – a devastating earthquake has hit the country earlier this year. We stood in solidarity and support of Türkiye. We have mobilised the whole international community. We have been able to create a pledge over EUR 6 billion for Türkiye, to help the people of Türkiye.

We were ready to help because we care. Because we are friends. Because we are allies. And I think this cannot be underlined strong enough.

In the upcoming period, the European Union will engage with the new Turkish Government to discuss the outlook for our partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There can be no doubt that migration is high on our agenda.

Migration poses an immense challenge for the European Union, Türkiye and all other partners in the region and beyond.

Illegal migration creates risks for our shared prosperity and stability. It fuels socio-economic tensions. It might lead to brain drain and challenges in livelihoods. Even it can create political instability.

The European Union understands that this situation can result in instability and uncertainty:for our people, for our markets, for our macro-economic and socio-economic stability.

We understand that migration needs to be addressed in a decisive and resolute manner.

And you have seen that the European Union is at full speed to work on this. The European Council hold last week its third debate this year on migration.

Our Leaders have reaffirmed that the European Union must live up to its commitments: deliver results on the ground, standing with our partners like Türkiye, both in political, financial and operational terms.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We acknowledge the pivotal role of Türkiye in ensuring stability and security in the EU’s neighbourhood.

We have to see eye to eye. We have to recognise the continued contribution of Türkiye in addressing the needs of the largest refugee population in the world.

The European Union remains committed to support Türkiye. So far, we have mobilised EUR 10 billion in support of the Syrian refugees and host communities in Türkiye since 2016.

From the 2016-2019 package, we have allocated the entire EUR 6 billion and disbursed more than EUR 5 billion, with around 100 projects throughout the country.

From the 2020-2023 package, we have granted an additional EUR 3.5 billion to ensure assistance for basic needs, education, healthcare, livelihoods, and not least border protection.

In response to the devastating earthquake, we are currently mobilising EUR 350 million to support the earthquake affected regions, and over EUR 100 million in humanitarian assistance.

No other donor has done the same.

The 2016 EU-Türkiye Statement has delivered important results in preventing loss of life, reducing irregular migration, and contributing to dignified livelihoods for refugees. We remain committed to the implementation of the Statement.

And we count on Türkiye’s continued efforts as well. As this engagement builds on mutual trust.

We are also aware of the significant migratory pressure Türkiye is facing, especially along its Eastern and Southern borders. That’s why we have mobilised EUR 220 million for a project that strengthens border protection at Türkiye’sborders with Iraq and Iran. Providing state-of-the-art surveillance equipment like lighting systems, surveillance masts, cameras and training to the Turkish authorities, through our long-standing and reliable partnership with ICMPD.

Looking ahead, we are aware that continued assistance is essential, also beyond 2023.

We are committed to continue the significant European assistance to refugees and host communities in Türkiye – fit for the current realities on the ground, and as a major investment in stability and security, with appropriate level of financial assistance, and with the overall objectives to be discussed in the European Council and consulted with Türkiye in due course.

Finally, I want to express our appreciation for the valuable work of the ICMPD, including in Türkiye. ICMPD is a trusted implementing partner of the European Commission, with a very positive track-record, delivering essential and life-saving projects across the EU’s neighbourhood, in response to the tasking of the European Council. We acknowledge your professionalism and expertise in the implementation of EU-funded projects.

Without further due, I want to thank you for all coming today and your devoting attention to today’s topic.

Thank you for your attention.