The Wall Street Journal reports: The European Union is looking to Turkey for more help in containing the flow of refugees that have fed the greatest migration in Europe since World War II. It is considering a pledge of up to $3.4 billion in aid requested by Turkey — after the bloc offered $1.1 billion last month — while Turkey in return demands speeding up its membership negotiations with the union and visa liberalization for its citizens.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Istanbul on Sunday to secure Turkish authorities’ assistance in containing the refugee influx to Europe via Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been dismissive of Europe’s newfound alarm over a refugee crisis his government has been long trying to manage — and frustrated by fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organization members who have rebuffed his calls to create a safe haven in northern Syria that could reduce the flow of refugees uprooted by war. That has left Turkey to shoulder much of the responsibility, Turkish officials say.
“The two million Syrians are not a burden only financially, but also in other terms,” Omer Celik, spokesman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, told reporters Friday. “The best solution would be to set up the safety zone inside Syria, settle the Syrians there, and provide them assistance through Turkey.”
The government has handed out just 6,000 work permits to Syrians, a tiny percentage of the immigrant workforce. And less than 15% of Syrian children in Turkey are able to go to school, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency. [Continue reading…]