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Is Turkey using refugee crisis as a lever to extract money from EU?

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Turkey is forcing the European leaders to make revisions in the migration deal and pay more cash to prevent the flock of refugees from leaving the country and entering Europe. Thousands of refugees have been trying to enter Europe amid the ongoing conflict between Syria, Russia, and Turkey. As per the reports, the recent escalation in the crisis was caused since last month with the launch of the Russian-Syrian offensive in Idlib, the north-western province of Syria.

Millions of Syrian refugees have set out for Europe in hope of a safer home and Turkey is encouraging them in their pursuit, especially amid the increasing spread of coronavirus pandemic. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, asked the refugees to leave Turkey and head towards the Greek islands and the Baltics.

Ankara refused to take in any more refugees with 3.7 million Syrian migrants already residing in Turkey, far more than in any other country in the world. Ankara said it cannot absorb the further surge in refugees migrating from Syria. But money changed the course of the dialogue between Turkey and Europe.

It is the second time since 2015 that Europe faced such a massive influx of refugees. That surge ended with European Union gave Turkey €6bn to keep the refugees in Turkey. Turkey has been pushing to revise the 2016 migration deal.

On Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan held a teleconference with the political heads of France, Germany, and Britain. The meeting held between Mr. Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Borris Johnson focused on resolving the migration crisis and coming together against the global coronavirus outbreak.

Ankara pressed the European leaders for cash. The experts believe that the EU can no longer hide behind the Greek security to put the refugee crisis at rest, rather it should prepare for a second €6bn emergency fund, along with taking some of the refugees off Greek islands and relocate them safely throughout EU.

“We found an opportunity to extensively evaluate many topics ranging from the fight against coronavirus and the humanitarian situation in [Syria’s] Idlib, to solutions to Syria crisis, a matter of asylum seekers and Turkey-EU relations at the summit,” Erdogan said on Twitter following the summit.

“In this difficult process that we pass through at the regional and global level, we will operate diplomacy and cooperation mechanisms more actively, and we will resolutely continue our efforts to resolve problems as soon as possible,” he added.

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