“We had tonight a meeting with President Erdoğan. A few days after my visit in Ankara, it was important to have this occasion to exchange our views on different topics related to the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. And of course, the first topic we discussed is the implementation of the deal between the European Union and Turkey on migration. We had the occasion to share our different opinions about the implementation of this deal a few years after this agreement” said the EU Council president Charles Michel.
“It is also very important to share with you that we will debrief the member states. We consulted a lot the member states the last days. It was, of course, necessary in order to inform them, in order to listen to the member states and to their concern regarding the different topics we have to discuss with Turkey. We will debrief the member states and it will also be the occasion later with the member states, after this process, this High-Level Political and technical process, between Turkey and the European Union through Josep Borrell and his counterpart in Turkey. It will also be the occasion to have, again, a political dialogue at the level of president Erdoğan in the next days and in the next weeks in order to continue this process of information and consultation of the different member states” Michel continued.
“We also had the opportunity to explain the difference for the European Union between the means which are paid and disbursed, because the procedures are accomplished and the projects carried out, and the means which are committed, ie reserved in the case of the six billion euro envelope that was mobilized in connection with this agreement. This is a first point. Second point: we also had the opportunity to discuss security issues in the region, especially in Syria, and to highlight our mobilization in support of any political solution to bring more stability, but above all to highlight the the great humanitarian concern we have in Idlib, as well as on the border between Turkey and Syria. And the possible mobilization of the European Union to try to provide support in this area” Michel underlined.
However President Erdogan did not participate int he final press-conference, and some commentators assessed the meeting did not pass as foreseen, ending by abrupt departure of Turkish delegation.
The experts pointed at the talks failure, indicating that the positions of the parties are too far away to reach any rapprochement, especially responding to President Erdogan’s request to open Greek borders to let the migrants to pass further to the other European countries. In 2016, the EU struck a a financial arrangement with Turkey that prevented displaced Syrians from entering the EU via Greece in exchange for six billion euro aid. The agreement, although criticised by many, for time being has helped to stop Europe’s biggest refugee influx since World War II. It is unclear if Erdogan has accepted the explanations of the EU side on delays of transfers of six billion migrant funds to Turkey. In line with his previous strategy Erdogan continued to request visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens.
Government is seeking a “coalition of the willing” to shelter migrant children across Europe. The EU is searching for way to avoid the second wave of the 2015 refugee crisis while thousands of migrants gather at Greece’s border. (Image: social media).
Germany is prepared to take in “an appropriate share” of the neediest refugee children hosted in overcrowded Greek migrant camps, Berlin officials said on March 9.
The official underlined that they are prepared to take children together with “a coalition of the willing” along with the other EU countries.
The announcement from the government came after Chancellor Angela Merkel met with members of her coalition government to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Greece including already existing situation in the migrants camps.
At present the crowds of migrants have been gathering along the Greece-Turkey border following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcement Turkey borders were open to refugees seeking to cross into Greece.
German plan is set to help between 1,000 – 1,500 children identified as being particularly in need. This means either unaccompanied children under the age of 14 or children in need of urgent medical assistance. However no clarifications of methods of establishing real age of children were presented publicly. So far in absence of documents humanitarian organisations register age of migrants on bona fide basis without any further verifications. This practice has opened a broad gate of abuses, when young men of 25 years, and older registered as minors.
The Europeans discovered gross abuses in hosting refugee system when a Somalian “child refugee” stabbed a Swedish social worker to death. In the cause of prosecution the assailant has been identified to be at least three years older than the declared age of 15.
Alexandra Mezher, 22, was killed (25.01.2016) after she tried to break up a knife fight at an child migrant centre where she worked in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Educated to care for children Mezher herself had expressed concerns to her family about being the guardian for “big powerful guys aged up to 24“.
The Foreign Affairs Council adopted a statement on the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders with Turkey. (Image: illustration).
In its statement, the Council acknowledges the increased migratory burden and risks Turkey is facing on its territory and the substantial efforts it has made in hosting 3,7 million migrants and refugees. The Council also strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes and restates that the EU and its member states remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders, in accordance with EU and international law.
In this context the Council reiterates the EU’s full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states in their efforts to manage the EU’s external borders.
On Idlib, the Council notes that the recent and continuing offensive by the Syrian regime and its backers, including Russia, is creating untold human suffering and has provoked the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.
The Council therefore calls for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict in Syria in order to avert a slide into international military confrontation, and prevent further suffering.
The Council notes the outcome of the Russia-Turkey meeting yesterday in Moscow and reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its call on all parties to keep in place an immediate and a sustainable ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of civilians on the ground and from the air and to enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance by the international community.
#Gymnich: Statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell following the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Zagreb, (Image: archive).
“…Turkey and Russia were in our agenda. Our relations with these two countries are difficult, but we have to improve them from different points of view. We have been accumulating difficulties and we have to restart a new approach to overcome these difficulties. [In our relations] with Russia we have five guiding principles since the Crimea crisis, which are very well fitted to the situation. We have to increase our engagement on selective issues, in which we have to have a good partnership with Russia: energy, climate change, Artic, Russia’s engagement in Syria and Libya, playing important roles that affect our security. Today has been an interesting approach on how to deal with that.
“On Turkey the situation is strongly linked to the crisis in Idlib. [We are] at the beginning of a migration crisis, the consequences of the Turks letting people go, making [them] maybe believe that the borders of Europe were open. We have to defend our borders, we have to conciliate the respect of the human rights of migrants with the fact that our borders cannot be violated, people cannot across the borders illegally. At the same time we have to talk with the Turks about many issues that affect directly our security, because Turkey is also playing an important role in the Libyan crisis.
“Tomorrow we are going to approve a statement putting [down in] black and white the conclusions, but today has been an open discussion about these two important neighbours which are unavoidably part of our security and part of our most important concerns.”
Presidents of Russian and Turkey signed a new memorandum on Idlib after five hours talks in Moscow.
Vladimir Putin and Tayyp Recep Erdogan signed a document, agreeing on ceasefire from Midnight, safety corridors, resumption of patrols.
– ceasefire today at midnight.
– A safety corridor along the M-4 highway in Syria.
– resumption of joint Russian-Turkish patrols, including along the new route
Putin also voiced hope that the deal would end civilian suffering and help contain a humanitarian crisis.
President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Recep Erdogan on March 4 that a face-to-face meeting was necessary amid the escalation in Idlib, Syria.
“We always have something to talk about, but now the situation in the Idlib zone has escalated so much that this requires our face-to-face conversation,” the Russian leader said opening the Russian-Turkish talks.
According to Russia’s President, the situation in Idlib must be discussed in a key that it does not ruin Russian-Turkish relations.
“We must definitely discuss everything, the entire situation we have today, so that similar things […] never happen again and so that […] it does not destroy the Russian-Turkish relations, which we — and I know that you too — treat carefully and prize highly,” Putin underlined.
Putin reiterated his condolences over the death of Turkish troops in Syria to Erdogan, underlining that the Syrian Army had been unaware of the Turkish forces’ location.
“I would like to reiterate my deepest condolences over the death of your troops in Syria,” Putin said to Erdogan. The Russian president added that “the loss of human life is always a tragedy.”
“Unfortunately, as I told you before in a phone call, no one, including the Syrian troops, was aware of their location,” Putin said. He added that Syrian troops had likewise sustained losses recently.
Putin thanked Erdogan for finding the opportinity to travel to Moscow to hold the meeting. He noted that the conversation would begin “confidentially“, as the Turkish leader had asked, and later, if necessary, the two countries’ delegations would join it.
“…In all our meetings I had the opportunity to express our understanding for the difficult situation Turkey is currently facing. But also I stressed that the current developments at the European borders are not leading to any solution” said EU top diplomat Josep Borrell adressing the crisis situation at EU-Turkey border. (Image above: illustration).
“Increased pressure at the European Union – Turkey border and unilateral actions are not bringing any positive answer. They are not bringing benefit to anyone. On the contrary it can only create problems and make the situation worse. And the ones who will pay the price are the people – the Syrian refugees and migrants.
“We also talked a lot about the situation in Idlib. Turkey and the European Union, have a common interest to end the conflict in Syria. We need to work hand in hand to address the common challenges. We need to cooperate in order to find a way to achieve this conflict. The situation is dramatic. The humanitarian consequences of military escalations are extremely grave. Humanitarian access needs to be urgently granted.”
“This is why today with my colleague the Commissioner in charge of crisis management [Janez Lenarčič] we have announced an additional €170 million in humanitarian aid to continue assisting the most vulnerable people in Syria, and among this money there are €60 million specially addressed to the humanitarian crisis in north-west Syria. The problem there is not funding, the problem is logistics, the problem is how to reach through the border, in a situation which is in the middle of the war, making every day more difficult to bring help to the people who need it…”