EU Pleads With Turkey to Halt Refugees

EU Pleads With Turkey to Halt RefugeesEU Pleads With Turkey to Halt Refugees

European Union foreign ministers pleaded with Turkey to shelter refugees from the Middle East, as the collapse of militant positions in Syria threatened to unleash a new exodus.

EU officials said that they have little leverage over Turkey, even after releasing €3 billion ($3.4 billion) in aid to help the government in Ankara house, feed and find jobs for people fleeing from Syria.

“We have powers to do things in Europe, but unfortunately we don’t have the power to tell the Turks what to do,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told reporters at an EU meeting in Amsterdam on Saturday, Bloomberg reported.

A new wave of clashes drove throngs of people out of Aleppo, a rebel stronghold, adding to the numbers en route to Europe after more than 1 million arrived last year.

Turkey has already let in 5,000 people escaping Aleppo, “and another 50,000-55,000 are on their way”, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Amsterdam.

The refugee crisis has led to political upheaval in Europe, compounding the effects of the lingering debt crisis. It has hastened the rise of anti-foreigner parties in eastern and northern Europe and cast doubt on the continent-wide preeminence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Deserted by many European allies and facing criticism from her own political camp for an overly welcoming stance, Merkel travels to Ankara on Monday to meet Turkish leaders.

On Saturday, she revived talk of the EU bringing in migrants directly from Turkey under a national quota system.

“We need to be prepared, if we want to stop illegal migration or human trafficking, to take on legal allotments of refugees and to take up our end of the bargain,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast from Berlin.

The European ministers in Amsterdam met with officials from Turkey and western Balkan countries to get to grips with migrants trekking north.

More than 50,000 people made it to Europe in January, ten times as many as a year earlier. Turkey disputed the charge that it has been inactive.