NEWS

Greece and Turkey to step up talks on refugee crisis

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Greece and Turkey are planning a series of high-level bilateral meetings to discuss coordination of the ongoing migration and refugee crisis, as trilateral talks between Greece, Turkey and Germany, which were set for some time in early 2016, are likely to be called off, Kathimerini understands.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under growing pressure to harden her line on immigration following reports of violence in the western city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve. In-party pressure on Merkel is also being fueled by Ankara’s apparent reluctance to curb the number of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

“The numbers are still way too high in Greece, between 2,000-3,000 people [arriving] every day,” Frans Timmermans said in Ankara on Monday. “We cannot be satisfied at this stage,” he said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will nevertheless meet with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos, Switzerland (January 21-24).

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit Athens from February 3 to 5 for a meeting with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias. The two prime ministers are expected to exchange visits – most likely at Izmir and Symi – later in the same month.

Officials from both sides of the Aegean will convene again in early March in the context of the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council.

Increased diplomatic activity, analysts say, should explain Athens’s restrained reaction to the large number of NOTAMs for military exercises issued by Ankara over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.