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Syria migrant crisis tops agenda at three-way ‘video summit’

Civilians in Idlib cut off a section of the M4 highway, which links Aleppo and Latakia, protesting against the passage of Russian military patrols along the road. (AFP)
Civilians in Idlib cut off a section of the M4 highway, which links Aleppo and Latakia, protesting against the passage of Russian military patrols along the road. (AFP)
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15 Mar 2020 05:03:00 GMT9
15 Mar 2020 05:03:00 GMT9

Menekse Tokyay

  • Turkish, German and French leaders discard meeting in favor video conference because of coronavirus concerns

ANKARA: The flood of refugees building up on Turkey’s borders with Syria and Greece will top the agenda at a three-nation “video summit” on March 17, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

The meeting between Turkish, German and French leaders Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron was supposed to take place in Istanbul, but will be held via video conference because of coronavirus concerns.

“The refugees along the Turkish-Greek border will be a significant part of the meeting. There may be some kind of intermediate agreement,” said Navvar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul.

“Ankara knows the Kremlin is not willing to offer lot, so they will have to balance their NATO relations to overcome the refugee management problems.”

Turkey wants an update of the 2016 migration deal with Brussels, and a revival of Turkey’s stalled EU accession process. Under the deal, Turkey was expected to stem migration to Europe in return for billions of euros in assistance.

However, Turkey is reluctant to close its borders because it is disappointed by the lack of European support for its operations in Syria.

“Turkey’s leader, through threats to the EU and ordering the border open after Turkish troops were killed in Idlib, has once again got the leading European powers to dance to Ankara’s tune,” said Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.

“France and Germany have shown they will never stand up to Turkey’s use of migrants as a populist weapon. Tragically the average person in this scenario gets no human rights and is just a ping-pong ball to be hit back and forth between Turkey and Europe’s two most important countries.”

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