Brussels following Turkey-U.S. talks over safe zone in northern Syria

European Union is following the talks between Turkey and the United States over a safe zone to be established in northeast Syria, EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said on Friday.

"Obviously, we do follow the discussions between the U.S. and Turkey and are trying to understand in more detail what this would mean and entail," Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Kocijancic as saying at a press briefing. 

Turkey and the United States last month agreed to establish a joint operations centre in Turkey for the planned safe zone, which Turkey says is essential for eliminating threats to its national security from the Kurdish-held territories in northeast Syria and for the safe return of a portion of 3.6 million Syrians living in Turkey. 

The troops of the NATO allies last week started joint patrols across the border, but talks between U.S. and Turkish officials continue over the size of the safe zone and who will control it.

Kocijancic said the EU believed that the goal in northeast Syria should to be to avoid any renewed armed hostilities.

Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that Turkey would open the gates for migrants to Europe if plans for the safe zone failed. 

“The ideal situation is that we’ll do this with our American friends, but if we don’t reach understandings, we’ll start by ourselves. Our goal is to resettle a million Syrian refugees in the safe zone, along 450 kilometres of the [Turkish-Syrian] border,” Erdoğan said. 

Turkey and the EU in 2016 agreed on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. According to the deal, the EU promised to allocate a total of €6 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants, while Turkey pledged to increase security along its borders.