Europe Losing Patience With Erdogan
EU’s first concern is the refugee flow to its borders and Turkey’s talk of invasion to thwart the Kurds is not helping
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strategy in Syria is collapsing, as Russia’s intervention puts Turkish allies there on the defensive, and the European Union becomes ever more frustrated with Ankara’s inability to stem the refugee tide.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Ankara on February 8 to discuss the growing refugee problem, with more than 30,000 Syrians amassing on the Turkish border, fleeing a fresh offensive by the Syrian army on the city of Aleppo. According to some reports, last month alone 70,000 refugees arrived in Greece from Turkey.
Merkel, who is under increasing pressure at home to reduce the number of migrants seeking refuge in Europe, held talks with Erdogan and her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. The German chancellor’s visit to Turkey, the second since October last year, took place shortly after the European Union approved €3bn in funding to help Ankara cope with the refuges.
Ankara, which says if has already spent more than $10bn to look after 2.5mn refugees from Syria, is now caught between the EU and the US, with Brussels urging Turkey to keep its doors open to the refugees, while Washington pressures Ankara to seal off its borders to prevent the free movement of Islamic State militants.
The situation is getting worse in Syria and becoming more complicated for Turkey with each day passing. Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Bashar al-Assad regime’s forces have made gains over the past weeks against the Syrian rebels around Aleppo, triggering a new wave of refugees.