Germany, Turkey hail progress in handling refugee crisis

Updated 18 October 2015
0

Germany, Turkey hail progress in handling refugee crisis

ISTANBUL: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday 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.”
“We are very pleased there is a better approach now. The issue of sharing going forward is very important,” said Davutoglu.
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 coast guard said five migrants including a baby and two boys had died trying to cross the Aegean Sea.
While many Germans have welcomed the refugees, there has also been a backlash. Support for Merkel’s conservatives dipped another point to 37 percent, a new poll said Sunday, while the long-dormant anti-Islamic PEGIDA protest movement has again drawn thousands of followers.
Simmering tensions ended in violence in the western city of Cologne on Saturday when a man with a knife attacked the independent mayoral hopeful Henriette Reker, 58, who is active in helping refugees, leaving her with serious neck wounds and injuring four others.
The attacker, a 44-year-old unemployed man arrested at the scene, had “a racist motivation” according to police, and was said to have been close to the extreme right in the 1990s.
As the influx continued, Hungary closed its border with Croatia, forcing the migrants to find a new route to northern Europe through Slovenia and into Austria.
Croatia on Saturday began ferrying migrants by bus and train to its northern border with Slovenia, with 3,000 crossing the frontier. Hundreds more were arriving in Slovenia on Sunday aboard a special train from Croatia.
Slovenia has said it would draft in the army to help police cope with the additional numbers.
Another 1,000 people crossed from Slovenia into Austria on Saturday and through the night, police said, with most headed for Germany, where debate continued over how to slow the influx.
Police union chief Rainer Wendt told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper Germany should build a fence along its border with Austria.
“If we close our borders this way, Austria will also close its border with Slovenia, and that’s exactly the effect we need,” he said.
Davutoglu also warned that new fighting around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo risks creating “significant new waves of migration.”
He said that “some Iranian militia” and the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah had been putting pressure on Aleppo, leading to greater fighting coupled with the air strikes by Russia which Turkey has vehemently opposed.


Russia ready to discuss nuclear treaty with China, US

Updated 15 min 25 sec ago
0

Russia ready to discuss nuclear treaty with China, US

  • An official said that Russia “would like to convince” the US to adopt a joint statement that would condemn any use of nuclear weapons
  • The comments come just months after the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a cornerstone of the post-Cold War security

MOSCOW: A top Russian diplomat says Russia is willing to negotiate a new nuclear weapons treaty with the United States and China.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Friday Moscow is closely following reports in the United States that the US would like to reach a nuclear weapons deal with both Russia and China, and is “willing” to negotiate. The story was reported by CNN earlier Friday.
Ryabkov also said that Russia “would like to convince” the US to adopt a joint statement that would condemn any use of nuclear weapons.
Ryabkov’s comments come just months after the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a cornerstone of the post-Cold War security, and Russia followed suit. Each claims breaches by the other.