Seehofer in Turkey migrant talks

Germany's Interior Minister meets top Turkish officials to discuss EU-Turkey refugees deal, amid current tension over migrants.

Seehofer in Turkey migrant talks
dpa

Istanbul (dpa) - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described a meeting with top German and EU officials as "productive" and "frank" as the bloc attempts to soothe recent tensions over a sharp increase in migrant arrivals, mainly Syrians, from Turkey to Greece.

"We saw that they are intent on a healthier cooperation with Turkey on this (migration) issue," Cavusoglu said of his meeting with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in the Turkish capital on Friday.

Under a 2016 deal, the European Union pledged up to 6 billion euros (6.58 billion dollars) to support refugees in Turkey. Of this, 2.57 billion euros had been disbursed by the end of September.

With the deal, Ankara agreed to prevent migrants from attempting to reach the bloc. Greece last month warned about the growing pace of migrant arrivals from Turkey to Greece, citing overcrowded Greek islands.

Many migrants attempt to use a route from Turkey's Aegean shores to the Greek islands as a gateway into Europe. Cavusoglu charged there was only a "small increase" in migrant arrivals in Greece and criticism of Turkey on this issue was "baseless."

Turkey says it hosts the world's largest refugee population at more than 4 million, of whom 3.6 million are from war-torn Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously argued that the EU is not sending enough support to Turkey and threatened to "open the gates" for migrants to leave for Europe.

On Thursday, Seehofer and Avramopoulos expressed support for Turkey in tackling its migration burden at a meeting with Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

Turkey also seeks EU support regarding the creation of a so-called safe zone in north-eastern Syria, Cavusoglu said, adding he briefed the visiting delegate on details of the plan and what is needed.

Erdogan has recently said as many as 2 million Syrian refugees would be relocated to a planned 30-kilometre-deep zone that stretches from the east of Euphrates River to the border with Iraq.