ANKARA, April 23, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu(2nd R) holds a joint press conference with the visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel(1st R), EU Council President Donald Tusk (1st L) and EU Deputy Commissioner Frans Timmermans in southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep on April 23, 2016. The European Union (EU) would spend one billion euros (about 1.12 billion U.S. dollars) by July for projects aiming to improve the living condition of Syrian migrants in Turkey, EU Deputy Commissioner Frans Timmermans said Saturday. (Xinhua/Mert Macit)
ANKARA, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) would spend one billion euros (about 1.12 billion U.S. dollars) by July for projects aiming to improve the living condition of Syrian migrants in Turkey, EU Deputy Commissioner Frans Timmermans said Saturday.
After visiting Nizip 1 camp and child protection center in Turkey's southeastern Gaziantep province bordering Syria, Timmermans said the biggest challenge is the education of Syrians, hailing Turkey's efforts as the "best example" on how refugees should be treated.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials visited Syrian refugees living in a camp near the Turkish-Syrian border, and had discussions with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about implementation of a deal aimed at stemming the flow of migrants into Europe and keeping the Schengen area safe.
"We'll meet our obligations about Syrian migrants," Merkel said after visiting the camp in the same province.
Merkel was accompanied by the president of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, and Timmermans to inaugurate the EU aid program for Syrians in Turkey.
The German chancellor said education is a major issue for the 370,000 Syrian migrants taking shelter in Gaziantep, and all Syrian children in Gaziantep would be able to have education provided with EU funds.
Germany would also contribute to a cease-fire in Syria, Merkel said, though it was not being implemented properly. She also lent support to Turkey's demand for establishment of special security zones in Syria near the border.
Davutoglu said the Turkish government had managed to decrease the number of irregular migrants crossing the Aegean between Turkey and Greece to 60 a week from 6,800 a day on average, following a deal with the EU to stop illegal migration of Syrian through Turkey to Europe.
Some 105 migrants have been sent to Europe and two Syrians were received back to Turkey from the Aegean Islands, he added.
"From now on first step is taken to mobilize EU funds. An EU project, worth 187 million euros (about 210 million dollars), has been launched today," the Turkish prime minister said, adding that the EU's support would be six billion euros (6.73 billion dollars) in three years.
Illegal migration in the Aegean has been significantly reduced since March, EU's Tusk said, referring to a EU-Turkey deal in which the EU promised to help ease Turkey's burden in hosting some three million refugees, as well as granting visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens as of June.
"We are trying to move illegal migration to a legal framework," Tusk added.
On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there were problems with the delivery of the money promised by the EU. He repeated his earlier threat of suspending the re-admission and other deals Turkey had inked with the EU to prevent irregular migration.
The readmission is also part of the March 18 deal between the EU and Turkey to regulate migration and refugee flows.
According to the deal, for every migrant Turkey receives, the EU promised to repatriate one to its member states.
Turkey's migrant readmission agreement with the EU would not be fulfilled without EU visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, Davutoglu said.