angela merkel.jpg
Photograph: EPA/KAY NIETFELD

The European Union's refugee deal with Turkey will serve as a model for similar agreements with North African countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview published by newspaper Passauer Neue Presse on Tuesday.

In an effort to end irregular migration to Europe, EU leaders agreed in March to take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian sent back across the Aegean Sea.

Over 1,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Europe since the deal was struck, and Greece, a main entry point for migrants, has seen a significant drop in arrivals.

"We will have to reach similar agreements with other countries, for example in North Africa, in order to get better control over refugee routes in the central Mediterranean," Merkel told Passauer Neue Presse.

Under the refugee deal, the EU also agreed to increase financial aid for refugees living in Turkey, grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens and to accelerate Ankara's EU membership talks.

Turkey has not yet fulfilled the 72 criteria attached to visa-free travel for its citizens in the Schengen area, including reform of a controversial Turkish law on terrorism.

"We will follow through on our commitments, but there are clear conditions attached to visa-free travel that have not been met," Merkel said in the interview.

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