'Syria's future depends upon recognizing Assad'

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel chat during their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, October 18, 2015. © Bulent Kilic
The issue is not to stop the refugees from coming into the EU as they are leaving the zones of armed conflict, said former Greek diplomat Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos. The only way to solve the crisis is to stop the warfare and recognize Assad, he added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Istanbul on Sunday.  She put a plan on how to handle the refugee crisis together with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

READ MORE: €3bn, visa deal & EU access talks if Turkey stops refugee flow to Europe

RT: What Germany and Turkey have agreed is that the latter would do more to tighten its border controls in exchange for financial assistance and the acceleration of its EU membership bid. Would that help Europe to better control the influx of refugees?

Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos: No, the issue from the European side is examined in a wrong way. The issue is not to stop the refugees from coming into Europe, because they are leaving a country that has been destroyed by armed conflict. The only way that you can have a solution to the problem is by stopping the war in Syria, and you can only do that by recognizing [Bashar] Assad and trying to reach a compromise solution with him on the future of Syria. But the war must stop. The EU is not doing that. During the summit that was held a few days ago, their only problem was how to prevent the people from coming into Europe. Well, you can only do that by stopping the war. I think the point of view of Moscow in this respect is quite correct.

RT: Regarding EU membership for Turkey, if it eventually joins, how might that impact the refugee crisis?

LC: Turkey will not join tomorrow. The problem of the Syrian refugees is a problem that must be solved today. So it will not impact at all when Turkey joins it and if it joins, and that will not happen in the next 10 years.

An Afghan refugee jumps off an overcrowded raft onto a beach at the Greek island of Lesbos October 19, 2015. © Yannis Behrakis

RT: Critics say EU membership for Turkey is too high a price for Ankara's help with refugees. How do you see it?

LC: Greece has been having problems with Turkey in handling refugees. We have signed a bilateral agreement that Turkey would take back any immigrants illegally coming into Greece. It has never been properly implemented. The EU has signed such an agreement, and still there are problems in its implementation. But that is not the issue – the issue is not Turkey, the issue is the plight of the human beings that are in Syria. Also I would like to add that the use of the word ‘hotspot’ for safe haven is very demeaning for the people, since the word ‘hotspot’ has been used for internet connections now, and I don’t think it should be used for human beings.

READ MORE: Germany’s police chief calls for border fence to cope with refugee crisis – report

RT: Why is Europe only now starting to cooperate with Turkey on the refugee crisis?

LC: Nothing much seems to be working in the EU today...  I think that the politicians of the EU are alienated from what their people said. And we saw that just a few days ago when the commissioner [Cecilia] Malmstrom said on the agreement between the EU and the US – TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] that: “I have no mandate from the European people.” That is absurd what she said – if she gets her mandate from other circles in other parts the world.


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