ISTANBUL/TURKEY - Turkish, French, German and British leaders met by videoconference Tuesday to commit themselves to joint actions on the Syrian refugee crisis and coronavirus pandemic.
The last-minute conference due to the COVID-19 outbreak replaced an Istanbul summit between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"We have the opportunity to undertake comprehensive assessments on many issues up, from EU-Turkey relations to the asylum issues," tweeted Erdogan after the meeting. Few details on the nature of the cooperation agreed between the leaders have been released.
The video summit is in response to Erdogan sparking a crisis by opening Turkish frontiers with European Union members to migrants and refugees living in Turkey. Turkey hosts nearly 4 million Syrians and Erdogan insists his country can no longer cope. In 2015, Ankara made a similar move, resulting in more than one million people fleeing to neighboring Greece and Bulgaria, sparking a refugee crisis across Europe.
The exodus spurred the EU’s agreement on a 2016 migration deal with Turkey. Ankara then secured its borders, markedly curtailing migrants entering Europe. The threat of a new refugee exodus into Europe is widely seen as Erdogan's most important leverage over the European leaders.
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