There is a "growing urgency" in Brussels to strike a deal with Turkey to halt the Syrian refugee influx into Europe, as Syrian leader Assad's assault on the opposition stronghold of Aleppo threatens to drive a new wave of up to 3.5 million refugees, says Matthew Holehouse in The Daily Telegraph. Syria's neighbours Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have taken around five million refugees, with Turkey taking two million so far.
An EU package agreed last week in Brussels "looks pretty desperate", says David Gardner in the FT. The "sweeteners" on offer to Ankara include the reopening of stalled EU accession talks, the liberalisation of EU visa rules for Turks, and around €3bn in aid (about half of what Turkey has already spent on the crisis). This marks a new chapter in an "unedifying narrative" that has seen the EU go from embracing Turkey, to rejecting it as "too big, too poor and too Muslim", to this "form of self-interested re-engagement in extremis".
Turkey has been in the "human rights doghouse" for years and the charm offensive marks a dramatic reversal offortune, agrees Alex Barker, also in the FT. Yet Turkish officials are "driving a hard bargain". A day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with her Turkish counterparts in Istanbul to firm up the deal, the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that Turkey will not serve as a "concentration camp" for exiled Syrians and "pressed for new concessions", says Charles Bremner in The Times.
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With a general election in November, his words were partly aimed at "reassuring voters that Turkey was not selling out to Europe". As Holehouse notes, most Turksare opposed to Syrian refugees settling in the country. Without a victory for his AKP party, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not be able to "implement the Turkish side of the bargain".
Merkel is also trying to rescue her party's ratings, which fell to a new low of 37% in a recent poll, says David Charter in The Times. Amid unofficial forecasts that 1.5 million migrants could enter Germany this year (the official forecast is 800,000), towns across the nation are saying they cannot cope. Her visit to Turkey and plans to put asylum seekers in controversial border "transit zones" are signs that Merkel has been "stung into tougher action".
For a chancellor with a reputation as "shrewd and calculating", and rarely out of touch with the public mood, Merkel has acted with an uncharacteristic lackof caution, says Christian Schnee inThe Guardian. Could it be that after a decade at the helm she is looking for an "exit strategy"? The refugee crisis has given her an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy, while "engendering a potentially lethal storm on the home front Going down with flying colours for a worthy cause" may be just what she is aiming for.
Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career.
On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.
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