The British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond credited the UK’s closer intelligence cooperation with cooperation with Turkey, revealing that over 600 British citizens have been intercepted trying to reach Syria, according to the Telegraph.
Hammond’s two-day visit to Ankara, which included a visit to Saricam refugee camp in southern Turkey, addressed questions on how to prevent foreign fighters from entering Syria and how to prevent refugees from coming into Europe.
Under the stipulation of a landmark agreement reached in October, Turkey is supposed to reduce the flow of refugees with 3 billion euros to be funded by the EU.
However the funding has yet to arrive.
Hammond said the EU must “get its act together” and blamed “one or two” member states, including Italy, for failing to provide the funding.
During a visit to Turkey last year, Hammond formulated a number of requests for closer intelligence cooperation which have all been granted.
“The net result is that Turkey has become the key partner when it comes to intercepting the flow of foreign fighters,” said Hammond.
A total of 1,400 British nationals have attempted to travel to Syria since 2012. According to the latest figures, 40 per cent of these were stopped.
Those detained by Turkey are either returned to Britain or held for the offence of crossing the Syrian border illegally.
The Foreign Office refused to provide details on what happened to the 600 after they were intercepted, for security reasons.
Hammond said the United Kingdom was willing to provide 400 million GBP towards the EU funded planto stem the flow of refugees and he remained critical of other EU countries.
Turkey plans to issue Syrian refugees with work permits provided they have been officially registered for at least six months. By providing refugees with employment opportunities in Turkey, it is believed this might reduce the incentive to travel to Europe.
Hammond welomed the decision, describing it as the “single most important” step that Turkey could take to cap the flow of refugees.