On Thursday evening (8 October), Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Minister of the Interior de Maizière attended an EU conference in Luxembourg on refugee routes. Representatives from the countries of the Western Balkans, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan were also in attendance along with EU officials.
At the beginning of the EU meeting with the countries of the Western Balkans and Syria’s neighbours, Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Minister of the Interior de Maizière issued a statement on the topics on the agenda. Steinmeier emphasised that no country in Europe was able to tackle the challenge posed by the refugee crisis alone, adding that what was needed was the cooperation of all EU member states with neighbouring countries along the most important transit route for refugees.
In the last few days, Foreign Minister Steinmeier has repeatedly issued urgent calls for a common European response to the massive influx of refugees. In talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Igor Crnadak, for example, he reiterated that no country was able to master this challenge alone. As transit countries, the Balkan states, in particular Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, had been faced with a mammoth task in the last few weeks. Germany, too, had a heavy burden to bear due to its refugee admission policy. Furthermore, he went on to say, he hoped that the talks on refugee policy underway with Turkey would be successful.
Talks with key country Turkey
At the beginning of the conference in Luxembourg on Thursday, Foreign Minister Steinmeier highlighted Turkey’s special role and said that it was “a key country for migration to Europe”. He said that Turkey, which at the high point hosted more than two million refugees, was “greatly respected and acknowledged for what it has coped with in the last five years”. Talks were now being held with Turkey on “how we can better manage refugee migration”, Steinmeier continued.
Moreover, Steinmeier emphasised how important it is to tackle the causes of flight. The international community must keep up and “redouble” its efforts to de-escalate the conflicts in the region such as the war in Syria, he said. Another priority, he added, was to improve care for the Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries. The German Foreign Minister mentioned Germany’s commitment in this regard. At his initiative, representatives of the G7 and other countries agreed in New York a few days ago to provide a further 1.8 billion dollars for refugee aid.