Turkey, Germany praise crisis talks progress

  • 19/10/2015
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AAP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AAP)

By Stuart Williams with Frank Zeller

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have hailed a better understanding between Ankara and the European Union in dealing with the refugee crisis, as thousands more migrants poured into Slovenia headed for western Europe.

Merkel held talks in Istanbul with Davutoglu and was meeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a critical one-day visit which came as Germany was shaken by a bloody knife attack on a pro-refugee politician.

The European Union wants Turkey to do more to tighten its border security and help contain the historic influx of people from Syria, Iraq and other conflict zones seeking shelter in the 28-nation bloc.

In return, Ankara wants greater recognition for its role in hosting over two million Syrian refugees, an increase in financial help and an acceleration of its long-stalled bid for EU membership.

After the talks, Davutoglu praised a "better approach" from the European Union lamenting that "unfortunately Turkey was left alone by the international community in terms of burden sharing."

Germany has been Europe's top destination for refugees, most of whom travel through Turkey and the Balkans, and is expecting to register up to a million asylum requests this year.

Davutoglu hailed Merkel for "not turning a blind eye" to the refugee crisis.

"Many others said refugees should be sent back (from the EU). She displayed a humanitarian position," he added.

Merkel said that the fact Turkey had accomplished the immense task of looking after over two million Syrian refugees on relatively little funding had led to a "migration pressure" which resulted in the influx of migrants into Europe.

"Turkey had little international help until now for the huge contribution it has made," said Merkel.

She said it was in the interests of neither side that this resulted in illegal migration into the EU.

"This cannot be the aim. We will engage ourselves more strongly financially as the European Union. Germany will play its part," she promised.

Erdogan had last week heaped scorn on Europe's efforts to deal with the crisis and urged Brussels to take Ankara's EU membership bid more seriously.

But Merkel said that talks on a final plan by Turkey and the EU to deal with the refugee crisis were progressing. "We are still speaking over the details," she said.

More than 630,000 people fleeing war and misery have landed on Europe's shores this year, many making risky sea crossings from Turkey to Greece.

Another 12 people drowned off the Turkish coast on Saturday, and on Sunday the Greek coastguard said five migrants including a baby and two boys had died trying to cross the Aegean Sea.