Germany’s Merkel to visit Turkey as refugees flee Syria’s Idlib

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to visit Turkey for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over a refugee deal he agreed with the European Union, as Turkey is at risk of a new massive refugee inflow from Syria’s Idlib, Reuters reported, citing German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Erdoğan said on Thursday that some 100,000 people had fled to areas near the Turkish border as clashes between jihadist groups controlling Idlib and the Syrian military escalated. 

“We have clearly told Europe and the whole world that we cannot tolerate a new refugee wave,” Erdoğan said, calling on European countries to take responsibility for the situation in Idlib, the last major-rebel held enclave in Syria that hosts an estimated 4 million people, most of them already displaced from elsewhere in the country. 

The Turkish president has repeatedly accused the European Union of failing to fulfil its part of the 2015 deal to curb refugee flows from Turkey into Europe. Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened to open the borders to allow the more than 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey to head to Europe.

A German government spokeswoman declined to confirm Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s report on Thursday, saying only that Merkel’s travel plans were always announced on the Friday of the preceding week, Reuters said.

Merkel and Erdoğan met in London in early December and discussed the situation in Syria with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. 

The German government is wary of the repeat of 2015 migrant crisis when the country opened its doors to more than a million people, most seeking refuge from the Syrian conflict, Reuters said.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan is seeking financial support for his plan to establish a safe zone in northern Syria to resettle Syrian refugees and complained after the meeting in London that European leaders remained indifferent to the refugee issue.