Turkish Leader Talks Migrants, Syria with European Counterparts
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday held a video conference call with the leaders of Britain, France and Germany amid growing tensions over Ankara’s recent decision to open its borders to migrants seeking to reach Europe. The move triggered a dispute with neighboring Greece, as tens of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and people looking for improved living standards amassed on the Turkish-Greek frontier. The situation quickly devolved into clashes between the migrants and Greek security forces, which prompted Athens to threaten to expel all those managing to cross the border without considering their circumstances. Erdogan’s decision to open the gates to Europe followed the deaths of over 50 Turkish soldiers in Syria’s hotly contested northwestern Idlib Province at the hands of regime forces or their allies. Turkey is currently housing close to 4 million refugees – more than 90% of them Syrian – and is demanding greater assistance from the European Union. Prior to a recent cease-fire, fighting in Idlib since December displaced nearly 1 million civilians. Ankara is insisting that progress be made on a new migrant deal with Brussels at the next EU leaders’ summit later this month.