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Turkey's Worsening Economy May Provoke New Flow of Refugees to EU - Journalist

© AP Photo / Petros GiannakourisIn this Sunday, March 20, 2016 file photo, volunteers help migrants and refugees on a dingy as they arrive at the shore of the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey.
In this Sunday, March 20, 2016 file photo, volunteers help migrants and refugees on a dingy as they arrive at the shore of the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey. - Sputnik International
Across Europe there are fears the Turkish crisis may endanger the controversial EU refugee agreement signed between Brussels and Ankara in March 2016. Under the arrangement, Brussels promised to hand over €6 billion in financial aid, to be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian refugees.

The Turkish lira has lost almost a third of its value against the dollar since January, sparking a potential economic meltdown across Europe. However, it also puts the EU’s migration deal with Ankara on an unsteady footing.

Turkey may have agreed to share the burden of hosting millions of refugees but its leaders also leveraged the deal to extract maximum concessions from the EU, in an attempt to heal waning relations between both parties.

While their agreement has curbed illegal migration into the EU, Turkey has threatened repeatedly to abandon the deal because Brussels has not held up its side of the bargain. Sputnik spoke to Journalist Hakkı Öcal about the latest situation in Turkey.

Sputnik: What impact is the slide in lira having on Turkey?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds a board featuring the new Turkish lira samples (File) - Sputnik International
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Hakkı Öcal: It is hard to believe it has had no affect whatsoever, in daily life. People don’t care; don’t know that the money has lost 45% of its value over the last month, simply because we are a close knit society.

People have a relationship with the villages and farmers still living in the old country, if worst comes to worst, we can go back to our main staples and we will do fine. That is the mentality; therefore we are not in a terrible state as a nation right now.

Sputnik: What impact could this situation in Turkey have on Europe and the refugee agreement?

Hakkı Öcal: The refugee situation? We have to remember, neither the UN nor the EU gave a single penny. The Turkish people are footing the bill for all the expenses from our own pocket. 

We are supporting our visitors from Syria and Iraq and we continue to support them. However, if the economic situation worsens and the government doesn’t have enough money to secure the borders or the Aegean Sea, I’m sure there will be a new flow of refugees to Europe.

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Sputnik: Do you see any way that both sides can return to talks rather than sanctions and how will this impact on NATO?

Hakkı Öcal: Recently the Turkish ambassador was at the White House and was talking to the nation’s Security Council. The presidents don’t obviously talk every day so if he is at the White House we can assume that there are open diplomatic channels between the two countries.

However, I understand that European intervention by leaders yesterday; Merkel said some nice things, France is also pushing hard, maybe they will be able to have some intermediator role here, to bring the two countries together, either in NATO structure or on the United Nations side-lines somewhere. There must be some extra talks between the two countries other than sanctions.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Hakkı Öcal and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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