Turkey asks Berlin to step up military involvement in Syria

Germany must step up its involvement in Syria if it wants to stem the flow of refugees into Europe

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Germany must step up its involvement in Syria if it wants to stem the flow of refugees into Europe, Turkey’s deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek in remarks to German daily Die Welt on Saturday.

“If Germany and others want to stop the influx of refugees, they must stop the bombings by Syrian and Russian forces against the Syrian opposition,” Simsek said, speaking days after 10 German tourists were killed in a suicide attack in Turkey.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for talks next Friday, with discussions to centre on the Istanbul attack and the flow of migrants to Europe.

“The origin of terror in Syria is the chaos on the ground, which was caused by the Syrian regime’s refusal to authorise democratic reform and the existence of an opposition,” Simsek said.

Regarding the fight against the Islamic State group, which has been blamed for the Istanbul attack, Simsek said: “No one can pretend we aren’t doing anything.”

Turkey has often been criticized by its Western allies for not doing enough to combat ISIS militants who have seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

“Daesh represents for us the greatest danger,” the deputy prime minister said, using another name to refer to ISIS.

On the migrant crisis too, Simsek said “we are already doing a lot.”

Turkey, which shares a border with war-torn Syria, is a key player in the current record migrant influx to Europe, with EU countries seeking Ankara’s help to stem the flow.

“We are building a fence all along the Syrian frontier. The first 150 kilometres (95 miles) will be ready in March, but we need a coordinated strategy with our partners,” Simsek said.

“Right now, we are giving refugees work permits. That will stop a lot of people from travelling to Europe but also places a heavy burden on our labor market,” he told Die Welt.

“Including the Iraqis, we count 2.5 million refugees in our country and in certain cities, there are more refugees than Turks.”

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