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German chancellor pledges support for refugees in Idlib

Angela Merkel underlines importance of political solution in Syria

Ayhan Şimşek   | 17.03.2020
German chancellor pledges support for refugees in Idlib

BERLIN

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday pledged support for refugees in Idlib and underlined the need for a sustainable cease-fire and a political solution to the conflict in Syria.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, following a teleconference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Borris Johnson, Merkel said they had a “very useful discussion” on the recent developments and humanitarian situation in northwestern Syria.

“Germany has earmarked €25 million [$27,498] plus €100 million [$109,994] for humanitarian assistance, and this must now quickly reach to the people,” she said, referring to millions of displaced Syrians who moved near Turkish border due to intense attacks by the Assad regime in recent months.

The German Chancellor praised the March 5 agreement between Turkey and Russia to restore a fragile cease-fire in Idlib, after weeks long clashes between the conflict parties.

“We very much welcome a temporary ceasefire,” Merkel said, but she also underlined the need for a sustainable cease-fire, and steps to revive the talks for a political solution to the conflict.

Merkel said the leaders have also discussed the migration issues and the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee agreement, during the video conference call.

“We have expressed our willingness to offer more financial support if necessary,” she said, adding that they were also aware of Ankara’s expectations for upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union.

The EU-Turkey agreement has been successful in stemming refugee flows in recent years, but the EU’s reluctance to take in refugees from Turkey, and bureaucratic hurdles in transferring promised funds for refugees, have led to sharp criticism from Turkish politicians.

Ankara also criticized its European partners for not fully implementing the 2016 agreement, and backing away from their political commitments, including negotiations on upgrading the Customs Union.

Turkey currently hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.

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