Merkel calls for greater EU cooperation with Turkey

Merkel calls for greater EU cooperation with Turkey
# 22 September 2015 20:46 (UTC +04:00)

“One cannot manage that alone, Greece cannot do it alone,” Merkel told a joint news conference with Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipila in Berlin. “Without the support of Turkey, it will not work.”

Pointing to recent talks between Germany and Turkey on the crisis, she added: “EU President Donald Tusk visited Turkey, I have talked to President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, had a telephone conversation with the Turkish prime minister. Foreign Minister [Frank-Walter] Steinmeier was recently in Turkey. We will continue to strengthen our bilateral contacts.”

Tusk is expected to brief EU leaders about his visit to Turkey at an emergency summit in Brussels to discuss the growing refugee influx to Europe on Wednesday.

Germany wants to see structured dialogue with Ankara on the refugee crisis that would include closer cooperation on issues such as border protection and aid for refugees sheltering in Turkey, according to diplomats.

Turkey is currently hosting 1.9 million Syrian refugees and has spent around $8 billion over the last five years. Ankara has been vocal in criticizing the international community for not providing adequate support.

Merkel said the EU should focus on the root causes of displacement, show solidarity with the countries most affected, strengthen external borders and take action against people smugglers.

“First of all, we have to look at the root causes of why people actually flee from their home countries,” she said. “This is not a problem that can be solved overnight."

“We also have to carry out talks with Turkey, in order to better patrol the border between Greece and Turkey.”

More than 500,000 migrants and refugees have entered the EU this year, according to EU border agency Frontex, nearly double that for the whole of 2014, when 280,000 arrived.

Turkey is a key route for migrants heading towards EU countries, many making the perilous crossing by sea to nearby Greek islands.