EU Sends Top Officials to Save Refugee Pact in Turkey

  • Turkey fears the number of Syrian refugees in the country will increase.
  • The German FM said Turkey is fulfilling all obligations under the four year asylum agreement, and expects the European side to fulfill it as well.
  • Erdogan has warned that his country is being pressured without further assistance from the EU to address the refugee situation and may be forced to "open the gates to Europe."

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer met with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara Friday in attempt to sign a new agreement between Turkey and the European Union. Seehofer praised Turkey’s efforts in refugee matters, and said that Turkey could get more funding support from the EU. He said it was difficult to control immigration to Europe without Turkey’s support, and Germany was ready to help Turkey.

Horst Seehofer is a German politician serving as Leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) from 2008 to 2019 and Minister of the Interior, Building and Community since 2018 under Chancellor Angela Merkel. From 2008 to 2018, he was Minister President of Bavaria; he also served as President of the Bundesrat between 2011 and 2012.

In a tweet, the German Interior Ministry also praised the role of the Turkish government and people in refugee matters and “their services to Europe.” Seehofer has sent a list of aid that Germany can send to Turkey. The issue of establishing a safe zone in northeastern Syria is also on the list.

Turkey fears the number of Syrian refugees in the country will increase. If Bashar al-Assad’s regime attacks the Syrian refugees in Idlib, a new wave of Syrian immigration to Turkey will begin. There are more than 2 million Syrians In Idlib. German media have criticized Seehofer for praising Turkey, and for leaving no room for criticism of human rights in Turkey.

Seehofer said Turkey is fulfilling all obligations under the four year asylum agreement, and expects the European side to fulfill it as well. Thousands of people have fled to Greece this year for the first time since the implementation of the agreement.

EU Commissioner for Immigration Dimitris Avramopoulos also accompanied Seehofer on the trip to Turkey. Avramopoulos’ tone and speech were slightly different from Seehofer’s. He said it was necessary to prevent asylum seekers from crossing Turkey as soon as possible. It is worth noting that Germany and the European Union have been under immense domestic pressure in the refugee crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that his country is being pressured without further assistance from the EU to address the refugee situation and may be forced to “open the gates to Europe.” Greece has even said that Turkey has already opened its borders to allow refugees to enter Europe.

Dimitris Avramopoulos is a Greek politician of the conservative New Democracy party, and former career diplomat. He has served in various high-level cabinet posts, including Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for National Defence, and was Mayor of Athens in 1995–2002. Since 1 November 2014 he is serving as EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship in the Juncker Commission.

Erdogan has called for EU and German support for the plan to establish a safe zone in northeast Syria. In this region, however, the People’s Defense Units are in control, and with the help of the US. Turkey regards the People’s Defense Units as a “terrorist group” that works with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Seehofer said in Ankara that Germany is ready to help Turkey and can help it control its borders. German media also announced a new asylum agreement between Turkey and the European Union. However, human rights organizations are calling for the cancellation of the asylum agreement between Turkey and the European Union.

The German Interior Minister also stressed that the talks would continue. In Ankara, he will also hold talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Seehofer is leaving for Greece after Turkey and will hold talks with EU officials in Brussels next week.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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