German chancellor Angela Merkel will lead a meeting of eight European states and Turkey on the sidelines of an EU summit on Dec. 17 to discuss plans to resettle refugees from Turkey.
The leaders of Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden, will attend along with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, an Austrian embassy spokesman told AFP.
The mini-summit of what has been dubbed the “coalition of the willing” highlights the divisions in the 28-nation European Union over how to tackle the migrant and refugee crisis engulfing the continent.
Eastern European states in particular are opposed to an agreement earlier this year to redistribute 160,000 refugees who are already in frontline states like Italy and Greeceand to resettle thousands more Syrian refugees directly from Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Dec. 14 that the meeting would be with “like minded countries led by Madame Merkel”.
Germany helped push a deal between the EU and Turkey in November, under the terms of which Ankara agreed to help stem the flow of migrants in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees.
The EU is grappling for solutions to the arrival of around one million migrants in Europethis year, most of them Syrian refugees from Turkey.
The full EU summit later on Dec. 17 will also discuss a controversial plan unveiled on Dec. 15 for a new border guard force which could intervene in member states without their consent.