Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold key talks with EU officials in Brussels on Europe's refugee crisis and the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, the BBC reported. EU governments are seeking Erdoğan's help to stem the flow of refugees as record numbers of people flee Syria's civil war amid Europe's worst migration crisis. The Turkish president is on a two-day state visit to Belgium and is set to hold talks Monday.
At least 2 million Syrian refugees currently live in Turkey and the country has made strides to accommodate them. Turkey has reportedly been one of the main departure points for those trying to enter Europe. According to the BBC, EU officials are expected to provide financial aid to Turkey to set up more camps for refugees.
Many Syrians in Turkey have reported an increasingly difficult life stained by rampant exploitation and bureaucratic restrictions, forcing hundreds of thousands of refugees to look toward Europe for better lives.
EU leaders believe that Syrian refugees will stay in Turkey if camps there are better and if they have access to better healthcare and have employment, BBC reported.
On Sunday, during an anti-terrorism rally in Strasbourg, France, Erdoğan criticized European countries' migration policies, accusing them of "confining refugees to the depths of the Mediterranean.” He also reportedly added that Turkey’s hosting of 2 million refugees is a "lesson on humanity" to the world, according to the Associated Press.
EU is also expected to demand the right to help man Turkey's borders in a bid to crack down on people smugglers, while Erdoğan wants EU’s support to end the Syrian war, which began in 2011.
Meanwhile, as Russia commenced airstrikes last week in Syria to fight the ISIS and forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Turkey's foreign ministry said Monday that a Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border Saturday. This reportedly prompted the air force to race to intercept two F-16 jets. Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Assad, has condemned the Russian intervention in his support.
Turkey urged Moscow to avoid repeating such a violation and warned it would be held "responsible for any undesired incident that may occur," the foreign ministry wrote in an emailed statement, according to Reuters. It summoned the Russian ambassador Monday to protest the airspace violation.