Steinmeier demands more aid for Turkey amid refugee crisis | News | DW | 18.09.2015
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Steinmeier demands more aid for Turkey amid refugee crisis

Germany's foreign minister has called for more aid to be funneled to Turkey and other transit nations struggling with growing numbers of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war. Turkey already hosts some 2 million Syrians.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier began his visit to Ankara on Friday by calling for "fair burden sharing" to tackle the refugee crisis. He said that meant transit countries along refugee routes, which have taken in large numbers of new arrivals, should receive extra support from Europe.

"I hope that this at least is a common European view," he said at Ankara's German embassy.

Steinmeier added that he hoped to work with the Turkish government to form a common assessment of how the situation could pan out in the coming months, and what role Turkey could play in tackling the Syrian conflict.

"We need a dialogue on migration, especially with Turkey," he said.

Government talks

During Friday's visit, Steinmeier is scheduled to visit a refugee center and hold meetings with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Feridun Sinirlioglu Hadi, representatives of the Turkish opposition, and the largely powerless self-proclaimed Syrian government in exile. It's not clear whether he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Besides the refugee crisis, the talks are also expected to focus on the recent escalation in clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants in the country's southeast.

Watch video 02:54

No end in sight to Syrian refugee drama

Difficult burden

Syria's neighbors Turkey and Lebanon have borne the brunt of the refugee problem sparked by the civil war, which began as a peaceful pro-democracy uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in early 2011. It has since spiraled into a multi-front conflict involving government forces, opposition fighters and a number of militant groups, including "Islamic State" (IS).

About 250,000 people have been killed, and some 4 million have been forced to flee. Turkey has already taken in some 2 million Syrians - more than any other country.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Friday that Turkey has spent $7.6 billion (6.6 billion euros) caring for refugees, according to a report by broadcaster NTV. He also said the Turkish coastguard had this year rescued more than 50,000 migrants attempting to reach Europe.

Fair distribution

Turkey is the main departure point for refugees seeking travel to Europe, which is itself struggling to accommodate the surge of migrants.

The European Union, meanwhile, is trying to agree on a plan to distribute 120,000 refugees across the 28-country bloc under a quota system. In comments published in the "Passauer Neue Presse" daily on Friday, Steinmeier said it may be necessary to force eastern European countries to accept such a quota deal.

Steinmeier said it was unfair to expect Germany, Austria, Sweden and Italy to bear the burden of migrants in Europe alone, and that "if there is no other way we need to seriously consider using the instrument of a majority decision."

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nm/jil (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)