Migrants: Turkey has violated agreement with EU, Mitsotakis

Presidents of EU institutions at Greece-Turkey border

03 March, 18:33

    Migrants wait to be served food near the city of Edirne, northwestern Turkey, as they wait to enter neighbouring Greece Migrants wait to be served food near the city of Edirne, northwestern Turkey, as they wait to enter neighbouring Greece

    BRUSSELS - Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday told a joint press conference with the presidents of EU institutions, who visited the border between Turkey and Greece where thousands of migrants are stranded after being rejected by Turkey, that ''what happened here over the past few days is painfully obvious to everybody''. ''Turkey, in full violation of the agreement with the EU, has encouraged and assisted in a systematic way tens of thousands of migrants and refugees to enter Greece. He has failed and he will continue to fail if he continues to pursue this strategy''.

    The current one is ''not a problem of refugees anymore, it is a clear attempt by Turkey to use desperate'' people to ''promote his geopolitical agenda and to distract attention from the horrible situation in Syria. The tens of thousands of people who have tried to enter Greece over the past few days were not coming from Idlib, they have long been in Turkey, safe, and many of them spoke Turkish'', the Greek premier said.

    Mitsotakis also stressed how in the past the EU was not up to the challenge of dealing with migration, expressing the hope that this instead will be ''a wake up call for Europe''.

    ''Those who are trying to undermine Europe's unity will be disappointed. We will maintain the line and our unity will be preserved. Turkey is not an enemy and people are not tools to reach an objective. Thanks to Greece for being our shield'', said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a joint press conference at the Greek-Turkish border.

    ''Greece's concerns are our'' concerns, continued von der Leyen. ''The fact that we are here is a clear declaration of solidarity and support of the EU to Greece'', she continued, describing the situation at the border as ''very tense''. Von der Leyen said she is ready to ''mobilize resources'' to support Athens, announcing financial assistance worth 700 million euros, the activation of a mechanism of civil protection and strengthening EU border agency Frontex.

    ''We have come here to express support for what you have done with your security services, with your teams and your government over the past few days. The Greek borders are Europe's borders, this is fundamental and must be remembered,'' said the president of the European Council Charles Michel.

    ''Greece is the EU's shield and guarantees the stability of the entire continent'' and as the rotating presidency of the EU Council ''we have come here to express solidarity to the Greek government as well as to demonstrate our common determination to help Greece give a response to this new potential migration crisis'', said Croatian Premier Andrej Plenkovic. ''The good relations between the EU and Turkey depend on each of us'', he added. ''We will try to find a political and diplomatic solution to ease this situation''.

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