Merkel defends EU-Turkey refugee agreement
Speaking at a joint press conference with her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz in Berlin, Merkel said protecting the EU’s external borders and providing support to countries hosting millions of refugees were important pillars in addressing the crisis.
Kurz, who was the Austrian foreign minister in 2016, had criticized the deal, arguing it would make EU dependent on Turkey.
“I don’t think we can leave it to human traffickers and smugglers to decide who can arrive in Europe and who cannot,” she added.
The German chancellor also called for more efforts in overcoming current problems in the resettlement of refugees from Turkey and other countries hosting millions of refugees from conflict regions.
“We must achieve more through resettlement, through cooperation with the UNHCR, and agreements with the respective countries,” she said.
Merkel has long been a key supporter of the EU-Turkey agreement clinched in March 2016, which aimed at discouraging the irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by establishing stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.