EU tells Turkey migrant flows \'still way too high\' despite deal
ANKARA - The number of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to EU member Greece is still "way too high" despite a November deal with Ankara aiming to limit the flow, the EU's first vice president said on Monday.
"The numbers are still way too high in Greece, between 2,000-3,000 people (arriving) every day. We cannot be satisfied at this stage," Frans Timmermans told reporters after talks with Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir in Ankara.
Under an action plan agreed in November, EU leaders pledged three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid for the more than 2.2 million Syrian refugees sheltering in Turkey, in exchange for Ankara acting to reduce the flow.
Under pressure from voters at home, EU leaders want to reduce the numbers coming to the European Union after over one million migrants reached Europe in 2015.
Yet there has so far been no sign of a significant reduction in the numbers of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and other troubled states undertaking the perilous crossing in rubber boats from Turkey's western coast to Greece.
In the latest tragedy, Turkish authorities last week found the bodies of at least 36 migrants, including several children, washed up on beaches and floating off its western coast after their boats sank.
"I believe we need to speed our work to get some of the projects in place," said Timmermans.
"I also said to the minister that we need... to be very explicit on what elements of the action plan have already been implemented and where we still need work."
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said last week it estimated that in the first three days of 2016 alone just over 5,000 migrants and refugees crossed into Greece despite the onset of winter weather.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a keynote address earlier that Europe had woken up far too late to the severity of the migrant crisis.
"Unfortunately the international community heard our warnings about the migration crisis very late," Cavusoglu told a meeting of Turkish ambassadors in Ankara.
"They only understood they seriousness when the body of tiny Aylan washed up on one of our beaches and wave after wave of migrants came to their own doors."
The images of three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi lying face-down on a Turkish beach in September 2015 spurred Europe into greater action on the migrant crisis