ISTANBUL, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Turkey on Saturday called on the European Union to increase the funding for Syrian refugees being sheltered on Turkish land.
"As long as the migration crisis is there, we have to continue to cooperate, and we have to work together," said Faruk Kaymakci, deputy minister of foreign affairs and director for EU affairs.
"So far the migration crisis has cost us more than 40 billion dollars," Kaymakci told the foreign press at a meeting in Istanbul, saying only 2.3 billion euros, or 2.6 billion dollars, in aid from the EU have reached Syrian refugees in Turkey numbering about 3.6 million.
Turkey agreed to help curb the flow of illegal migrants to Europe under a deal signed with the EU in March 2016, in return for a total of six billion euros in financial aid for the Syrian refugees, among others.
In line with the deal, Ankara and Brussels warned Syrian refugees against trying to go to Greek islands illegally, as they would be returned automatically.
In Kaymakci's view, this part of the deal has been executed in the best way possible for both sides.
According to figures unveiled by Kaymakci, Turkey has readmitted all the illegal refugees from Greek islands, whose number has reached nearly 2,000 since 2016.
The EU, meanwhile, has taken 25,000 Syrians from Turkey under the agreement.
Kaymakci also noted that the Greek authorities have been taking some of the Syrian refugees to the mainland instead of automatically sending them back to Turkey.
He said it would not be a problem for Turkey but has the potential to encourage more refugees to reach Greek islands.
Since this year, a total of 58,707 illegal migrants have attempted to reach Greece via Turkey, up from 25,398 over the same period in 2018, according to the latest figures released by the Turkish coast guard.