Turkey and Germany have agreed to a set of measures aimed at tackling the growing Syrian refugee crisis, as thousands of migrants remain stranded on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border.
Speaking Monday in Ankara with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the two countries would carry out "joint efforts" for greater NATO involvement in the refugee issue.
Davutoglu said German and Turkish agencies will start working together against human traffickers, as well as participating in joint security efforts to stop illegal migration.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the Russian bombing campaign in Aleppo have amassed at the Turkish-Syrian border.
"Nearly 30,000 people have amassed" near Turkey's Oncupinar border opposite Syria's Bab al-Samam frontier, he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speak as they look toward the city center after a welcome ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 8, 2016.
Turkey, which already hosts nearly 2.5 million refugees, was urged by the European Union on Saturday to open its border with Syria.
"We will meet the needs of our Syrian brothers as usual. We will take them in when necessary," Davutoglu said, but added, no one should "excuse or tolerate Russian airstrikes that are clearly an ethnic massacre, with the idea that Turkey would accept Syrian refugees in any case."
EU countries have pledged $3.3 billion to Turkey to give sanctuary to refugees and to help reduce the number of refugees seeking asylum in Europe.
Yet last week both the German and French interior ministers voiced frustration with Ankara over its failure to stem illegal migration despite its previous pledges to do so. They said more than 60,000 migrants traveled from Turkey to Greece in January, a 32-fold increase over the same time last year.
Merkel, whose country let in more than a million refugees last year, said she was "appalled" and "shocked" by the suffering in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands before a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 8, 2016.
"We are now, over the last few days, not only appalled but also shocked by the human suffering of tens of thousands of people through bombing attacks, and also bombing attacks originating from the Russian side," she said.
Merkel vowed to work with Davutoglu to ensure Moscow complied with United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The German leader also met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan before ending her visit to Turkey's capital.
Appeal to Moscow
Before meeting with the German leader, Erdogan urged European leaders to press Moscow to end its operations in Syria if the EU expected help in stemming the tide of migrants into Europe.
Political columnist Semih Idiz says despite declarations by Merkel to share the burden of refugees and Davutoglu’s commitment to crack down on illegal migration, doubts remains on both sides' commitments.
"On the European side, we have had statements that clearly suggest that these refugees should be kept in Turkey. ... It's not clear whether Turkey really wants to address the refugee crisis per se, or whether it is trying to gain some advantages as a result of this crisis in its relations with the EU," Idiz said.
Dorian Jones in Istanbul contributed to this report.