EU-Turkey deal a step forward, Obama says
US President Barack Obama answers questions from members of the audience at an event in central London on April 23, 2016 - AFP photoU.S. President Barack Obama has praised a recent deal on migrants between the European Union and Turkey, saying the deal was a step toward fairer sharing of the job of housing migrants.
In comments to German daily Bild published on April 23, Obama said the migration burden needed to be properly shared - the U.S. is committed to taking in at least 10,000 Syrians this year - and that “the recent agreement between the EU and Turkey is a step toward a more equitable way of sharing this responsibility.”
The U.S. president also stressed the need to uphold human rights, AP reported.
“As the agreement is implemented, it will be essential that migrants are treated properly and that human rights are upheld,” Obama said.
Many have questioned the 6-billion-euro ($6.7 billion) deal reached on March 20 which allows the deportation back to Turkey of migrants who don’t qualify for asylum in Greece. German Chancellor Angela Merkel championed the accord.
Obama also praised Merkel’s “political and moral leadership” in acting on an obligation to help people fleeing horrific conditions, AFP reported.
“I believe that Chancellor Merkel’s approach to the refugee crisis - and that of many Germans - has been courageous. She’s demonstrated real political and moral leadership,” Obama said in the interview.
“Angela has spoken of our moral obligation to people, including families and children, fleeing horrific conditions, including the barbarity of the [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad regime in Syria and ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” Obama also said.
“We simply cannot shut our doors to our fellow human beings when they are in such desperate need.”
Merkel, who arrived in Turkey on April 23 to discuss a deal on migration, has come under fire after Germany took in more than a million asylum seekers in 2015.
Opponents, including from within her conservative camp, have argued vocally that Europe’s top economy is ill-equipped to integrate the waves of newcomers.
Obama was due in Germany on April 24 to attend the Hanover industrial technology fair ahead of informal talks on April 25 with Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.