EU foreign policy chief due in Turkey for talks

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Faruk Zorlu

ANKARA (AA) – The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, along with the EU commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic will pay a two-day visit to Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the ministry said the officials will discuss Turkey-EU relations, migration crisis and developments regarding Idlib during the visit on March 3-4.

Idlib is home to four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

In recent months, nearly 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression were expressly prohibited.

But since then, more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in airstrikes and shelling by the regime and its allies.

Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under the 2018 deal with Russia which prohibits acts of aggression in the region.

– Migrant influx to Europe

Thousands of migrants flocked to Turkey's Pazarkule border crossing to Greece after Turkish officials announced last week they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe.

It followed an attack by Syrian regime forces on Turkish troops in Idlib, which martyred at least 34 soldiers last week.

On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in northwestern Syria to protect civilians from regime attacks.

Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million migrants from Syria alone, more than any other country in the world.

Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.