US Expects Beginning of Syrian Talks in Geneva, EU Struggles to Solve Refugee Crisis

Time: 11:44 a.m. CEST

The talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and opposition should start on Monday, but a Western diplomat explained on Sunday, Wednesday is earliest day for talk to begin, Reuters reports. The U.S. Secretary of State expected clarity within 24 to 48 hours, Reuters informs.

According to Kerry, the future of the talks on Syria “was in the hands of the Syrian parties.” Kerry appealed on seriousness. “They have to be serious. If they are not serious, war will continue. Up to them – you can lead a horse to water; you can’t make it drink,” Kerry said, according to Reuters.

Kerry said to the reporters following his visit to Laos, he agreed with the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, that invitations for the talks should not be sent out until “you have pieces lined up.” Another meeting of the International Syria Support Group had been “tentatively” agreed for February 11, Kerry explained.

While the Syrian government expressed the readiness to attend, the opposition’s High Negotiation Committee requested that the government halts bombardments, lifts blockades, and released detainees.

Meanwhile, the European Union member states’ ministers for justice and home affairs started informal meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands on Monday to discuss refugee crisis and asylum policies. On Friday, the European Commission issued press release about Western Balkans route.

Among other information, it says that a political level meeting will take place on the margins of the Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council among Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia, and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” to discuss the recent measures taken on the Western Balkans route.

On Saturday, Financial Times wrote that EU leaders are considering drastic plan to decrease number of asylum-seekers, “by blocking their access into Macedonia.” This measure, the Financial Times explains could “ring-fenced” Greece, while refugees could ask for asylum in Macedonia, but the countries could not approve the travel through different borders.

Many of the refugees claiming for asylum wish to continue the travel toward western and northern Europe’s countries. Overall, the EU would like to make revision of Blue Card, reform Dublin Regulation, proposed system for resettlement, and update strategy on human trafficking.


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