Europe stalls on Turkish refugee resettlement plan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried to secure contributions for a $3.5 billion plan to resettle Syrian refugees will cost during his meeting with the British, German and French leaders at last week’s NATO summit in London, Daily Sabah columnist Yahya Bostan said on Sunday.

But the European leaders did not make any commitments, instead arranging to continue discussions at a meeting in February.

Erdoğan wants to build new settlements for refugees in an area of northern Syria that Turkey captured in a military operation in October. He says the 3.6 million Syrians his country hosts have cost $40 billion, and he has accused the European Union of failing to provide all of the 6 billion euros it promised Turkey as part of a deal to prevent migrants crossing to Europe in 2016.

When one of the European leaders asked Erdoğan when he planned to withdraw from Syria, the Turkish president responded that his forces would remain in the country “until all ‘unrelated’ countries agree to leave,” Bostan said.

Turkey’s military operation has been widely condemned, since it targeted Kurdish-led groups that partnered NATO countries in the fight against the Islamic State. Ankara views the Syrian Kurdish groups as a threat since they have links to insurgents fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, but its offensive has raised accusations of ethnic cleansing.