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AP: Greek Migration Minister backs new funds for Turkey

Greece’s migration minister Giorgos Koumutsakos urged the incoming European Commission to renew a funding commitment to Turkey to stop migrants reaching the European Union.

Koumoutsakos told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that Athens would also welcome an enhanced NATO presence and tougher international patrolling off Greek islands where arrivals have spiked in recent weeks.

The EU has only paid out about half of the 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) promised to Turkey under a landmark 2016 agreement to halt westward migration, and officials in Ankara have recently threatened call off the deal without renewed disbursements.

“I think that the EU should positively consider the possibility of new funding to Turkey. Of course, this will not be unconditional but it should be seriously and positively considered,” Koumoutsakos said.

He said Greece favored tougher patrolling around Greek islands by the EU border protection agency Frontex — raising the possibility of international operations inside Turkish waters.

He said: “It depends very much on how the Turkish side would react to this, but the more the better: I mean if you have a robust presence with an assertive mandate, this would definitely produce better results than the ones we have right now.”

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