Migrant crisis to top agenda at G20 summit

No meeting for Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama due to dispute over support for Assad

A security check at  the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey: world leaders will  discuss the war in Syria. Photograph: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA

A security check at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey: world leaders will discuss the war in Syria. Photograph: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA

 

 

The refugee crisis is expected to dominate the G20 summit which opens in Turkey tomorrow as leaders of the world’s largest economies gather in the port city of Antalya for the 10th annual gathering.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, US president Barack Obama and the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and the other G20 nations are expected to discuss the war in Syria in the latest attempt to forge a united response to the civil war that has left 250,000 people dead and up to 10 million displaced.

However, with Moscow and Washington at odds over support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad no formal meeting was scheduled between the US and Russian leaders, the White House said.

Mr Putin said differences remained between Moscow and Turkey, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20, but said those differences should not affect bilateral ties.

Different views

“It is true that the two countries have different views on the ways to resolve the crisis in Syria. But the important thing is . . . we both stand for settling the situation in the region and effectively combating terrorism,” Mr Putin said. “With this in mind, the existing differences should not hamper our bilateral relations.”

 

The Antalya summit comes days after EU countries met in Malta to discuss a €3 billion funding plan for Turkey to support the country’s efforts to deal with the refugee crisis. A special EU-Turkey summit is to take place by the end of the month to sign off on a proposal, under which Ireland would offer €28.5 million in aid.

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans has been in Ankara this week negotiating the proposal, which would see the commission provide €500 million and EU member states contributing the remaining €2.5 billion to Turkey. A pledge to speed up Turkish accession negotiations would also be part of the plan.

Controls

As Europe struggles to cope with the biggest mass movement of people through its territory since the second World War, the European Commission on Friday formally approved Sweden’s temporary introduction of border controls and Germany’s decision to extend border checks in a bid to curb the flow of refugees.

 

In a statement, the EU’s executive arm said it had reviewed the moves and found them to be in accordance with Schengen rules which allow for “exceptional possibilities”. The commission previously gave the green light to similar moves by Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.

“We have no objections to measures that should remain proportionate,” a commission spokeswoman said on Friday, though she stressed the need for member states to implement EU measures already agreed to tackle the refugee crisis, including the relocation plan to redistribute 160,000 refugees across the EU.

Speaking at the close of the EU summit in Valletta on Thursday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker strongly criticised member states’ response to the plan, which has so far seen fewer than 150 people relocated. “I am not at all happy with the relocation process as it stands. We don’t have a lot of time . . . we need to step up a gear.”