Border ‘Not Open’, Erdogan Using Refugees in ‘Cynical Way’, EU Says

Border ‘Not Open’, Erdogan Using Refugees in ‘Cynical Way’, EU Says

The entire EU has expressed solidarity with Greece but also with other fellow member states with external borders near Turkey – Bulgaria and Cyprus.

The borders of the European Union are “not open”, and “illegal crossings will not be tolerated”, the EU Foreign Ministers declared regarding the amassing of migrants at the border between EU member Greece and Turkey.

“The situation at the EU external border is not acceptable. The EU and its Member States remain determined to effectively protect the EU’s external borders,” said the EU Foreign Affairs Council in a statement released after the meeting in Zagreb, Croatia.

“Illegal crossings will not be tolerated,” the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states declared further after the second day of talks on Friday.

“Don’t go to the border; the border is not open,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said after the meeting.

After the recent decision of the Turkish leadership to stop preventing migrants from reaching the external border of the EU, thousands of migrants have massed on the Turkish side of the border with Greece at Pazarkule, while others have been trying to reach the Greek islands in the Aegean by sea.

This development has led to violent clashes with Greek border guards as Greece has made it clear it would not allow migrants in.

Turkey’s decision came after its forces and allies in Syria’s Idlib province began clashing directly with the troops of Russian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Some 4 migrants, including 3.5 million Syrian refugees, are in Turkey, which has been preventing them from reaching the EU as part of a deal sealed in 2016.

“The EU … reiterates its full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other Member States, which might be similarly affected, including in efforts to manage the EU’s external borders,” the EU Foreign Ministers said in their statement.

Earlier, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok had said he opposed more EU financial help for Turkey now, due to the “cynical way” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using refugees.

“We should not react to the pressure that Turkey is exerting on us by agreeing to more money under pressure,” Blok said, as cited by DW.

Meanwhile, Germany’s government also said it would not approve extra money directly for the Turkish state to assist migrants, but that it would provide funding to aid groups.

In Zagreb, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged the other EU members to do something about the “unspeakable” conditions on the Greek – Turkey border.

(Banner image: Video grab from The Guardian)

Ivan Dikov is a Bulgarian journalist and author. He studied political science / international relations and history at Dartmouth College and later in Sofia, in the Eastern Balkans. He’s served for five years as the editor-in-chief of Bulgaria’s largest English-language media – Novinite.com. As a freelancer, he has collaborated with media from the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia.

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