January 25, 2016 / 10:56 AM / 4 years ago

EU closely monitoring Turkey's progress on curbing migrant flows: Hahn

European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn gestures as he addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The European Union is closely watching whether Turkish actions are affecting the record flow of migrants to Europe after it reached $3 billion deal with Ankara to curb migration, European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Monday.

The composition of refugees transiting through Turkey has changed, with Syrians fleeing the civil war now making up less than 40 percent, he said at a joint news conference after talks with Turkish officials. Syrians were the largest group in 2015.

Hahn also said Brussels views freedom of expression as fundamental in Turkey’s bid to join the EU, as criticism mounts that the government is curbing critical speech. He also said the bloc was ready to work with Turkey on a peace process with Kurdish militants after an insurgency reignited in July.

Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Nick Tattersall

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