"The European Union has already given a lot of money to Turkey and I think that part of this money could be used by Turkey, by President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, after an agreement with the European Union, of course, to create the [reception] centers in the southern part of Turkey at the border with Syria, at the border with Lebanon," Picchielli said.
The politician went on to say that he felt there was no need in allocating extra money to Turkey, because the European Union had already provided enough money to establish migrant reception centers for the country. Picchielli added that Turkey should ensure security of such reception centers and receive the money only after all obligations are fulfilled.
"I also think that these centers should be created in Africa directly, at borders of Libya, at the borders of Algeria, at the borders of Morocco. These centers should be created at the border so new migrants will not arrive even in Libya. This traffic of people will be stopped directly where it starts not at the second stage where they take boats to get to Europe," Picchielli noted.
While Picchielli called the possible creation of reception centers on the territory of the EU member states an important step forward, he also mentioned that more could be done in addressing the migration problem.
"I consider it is already a step but more could be done … because it is only on a voluntary base means that a lot of countries like Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic for sure will not create these centers and of course for Italy this is not good because we would like to have all the countries of the European Union to create these centers", the politician said.
On Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk announced that the EU leaders had agreed to pay another 3 billion euros ($3.49 billion) to Turkey under their 2016 migration deal.
On Thursday, during the European Council meeting, the member states agreed on the necessity of creating "regional disembarkation platforms in close cooperation with relevant third countries" as well as controlled reception centers within EU borders. Due to the absence of a mutual agreement between members, the resettlement or relocation of migrants across the bloc is expected to be done on a voluntary basis.
In March 2016, the European Union and Turkey reached a migration deal, under which they agreed that Syrian refugees arriving in Greece would be returned to Turkey if their claim for asylum was rejected, while Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey would be resettled in Europe on a one-for-one basis. Brussels, in turn, vowed to accelerate the Turkish EU accession bid, introduce visa liberalization, as well as provide financial aid to the country to cover the costs of migrant reception.