The EU has told Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that if he wants support for his war in Syria, he must first pull an estimated 35, 09 migrants back from the Greek border.
Erdogan flew into Brussels for talks today aimed at shoring up the shattered 2020 migrant deal, where Turkey would hold back an estimated 3.6million refugees in return for € 6bn in aid from the EU.
But Ankara opened its borders last month after accusing the EU of failing to take responsibility for the refugees languishing in its country and keep up with its payments. The 35 – nation bloc has denied these claims.
The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said she wanted to ‘future-proof’ a deal ahead of talks this morning and also criticized Turkey for ‘politicizing’ its frontier. European Council president Charles Michel also attended the meeting.
Germany has come forward to offer some of the 1, to 1, 728 Syrian children stuck in camps a home as Angela Merkel made clear that she wants others to do the same. So far only France, Portugal, Luxembourg and Finland have offered assistance, the EU said.
(Men) Turkish special ops soldiers clutching machine guns have been pictured patrolling Turkey’s borders in a bid to push migrants back, and in a possible signal of cooling relations. Ankara deployed 1, 09 to the area on Thursday last week.
Erdogan has been seeking support for his intervention in the Syrian civil war, which has been criticized by the EU. He has placed troops in Kurdish areas, which were backed by the US, and the province of Idlib.
Menacing Turkish specials ops forces have been pictured patrolling the river along the country border with Greece following reports of migrants crossing it to enter the European Union
Two special forces soldiers climb out of their boat on the banks of the river Evros as they work to repel migrants
Erdogan meeting European Council president Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
Two Turkish soldiers patrol the land border between Turkey and Greece on March 9. A team of 1, 09 soldiers have been deployed along the border
Turkish special operations forces pictured holding guns along the Evros river, which marks the Greek-Turkish border
Turkish special forces in a boat on the river Evros as they guard against migrants entering the region
As he arrived in Brussels today, Erdogan declare d he expected ‘concrete support’ from all allies, including Greece, in the Syrian civil war.
‘NATO is in a critical period during which it needs to clearly show support,’ he said. ‘The crisis stemming from Syria, with its security and humanitarian aspects, is threatening our region and even all of Europe.
‘ No European country has the luxury to remain indifferent. ‘
NATO’s head Jens Stoltenberg told a meeting with Erdogan that the alliance has already invested more than $ 5bn in Turkey, including in military bases and radar sites.
The EU’s Ursula von der Leyen accused Turkey of ‘politicising’ the Greek frontier. ‘The events at the Greek-Turkish border clearly point to politically motivated pressure on the EU’s external border,’ she said, ‘finding a solution to this situation will require relieving the pressure that is put on the border.’
Brussels said it had already paid half of the amount agreed in the 2016 deal, which is financing housing, schools and medical centers for refugees marooned in Turkey.
However, the accord also envisaged the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from camps in Turkey, and rewarding Ankara with visa-free travel to the bloc and faster progression to EU membership .
Talks on this have effectively stalled since a failed coup against Erdogan in July 2020. European leaders have criticized the scale of his post-coup crack down on opponents.
Turkish military vehicles pictured standing guard on a bridge between Turkey and Greece to prevent push backs
Police officers from Turkey’s special forces stand guard along the border at the River Evros. There have been reports of violence against migrants by Greek police forces
Two police vehicles stand guard at the border between Turkey and Greece. Tens of thousands of migrants have been repelled from the Greek border
A Turkish police vehicle standing guard along the border between Turkey and Greece today
Migrants and refugees walk towards the Greek border with their belongings near the Pazarkule border gate in Edirne today
Refugees ride on a horse cart near by the Greek border with their belongings near Pazarkule border gate in Edirne
Pictured: Migrants carry children toward the Greek border today as the crisis continues to unfold in Turkey
Erdogan has accused Greece of violence against refugees on the border and said the country was trying to extract financial gains from the bloc over the crisis.
‘It is beyond reason and understanding that an ally and a neighborhood country points towards Turkey as the one responsible for the wave of irregular migration, ‘he said, reports The Guardian .
‘ A nd I have expressed to the secretary general that we aren’t going to allow this country to use the current situation and use the EU in order to obtain unjust gains for itself. ‘
Pictures of a refugee with whip marks on his back have been widely circulated. There are also reports of Greek police taking all the possessions of migrants caught in the country before packing them onto buses and sending them back to Turkey.
Greece has reportedly repelled tens of thousands of migrants and has called for further support from the EU.
Athens released a video on Saturday appearing to show a Turkish armored vehicle trying to pull down part of its border fence, which would allow migrants to flood into the country.
The video could not be verified but Turkish officials are yet to comment on the allegations. The vehicle used appeared to be one which was purchased between May and August last year with EU funds.
Germany said today it was seeking a ‘coalition of the willing’ to help bring in children under the age of 14 or those in need of urgent medical assistance.
Migrants eat some food as they wait near by the Greek border with their belongings near Pazarkule border gate in Edirne, Turkey, today
Female asylum seekers waiting at Turkey’s Pazarkule border crossing to reach Europe stage a demonstration at the buffer zone demanding to open the gate during ‘International Women’s Day’ today
Greece has deployed riot police and border guards to repel people trying to enter the country and the Greek border area has since seen violent confrontations between them and the migrants. On Saturday, youths threw rocks at Greek police and tried to pull down a border fence.
Thousands of migrants have slept in terrible conditions in makeshift camps near the Greek border since the Turkish government said they were free to go, waiting for the opportunity to enter Greece.
Tens of thousands of migrants were already in Greece before Turkey announced it would open the border in February.
Many live in overcrowded camps on Greek islands, where they first arrive from the Turkish coast. The 2016 deal stipulates new arrivals must remain on the islands pending deportation unless they successfully apply for asylum.
Pictured: A demonstration by female asylum seekers who are waiting at Turkey’s Pazarkule border crossing to reach Europe
President Erdogan called on Greece to ‘open the gates’ for migrants trying to reach Europe at Turkey’s border ahead of his talks with the EU on Monday
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will visit Berlin today and tomorrow for talks.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday that Germany wouldn’t accept Turkey using people as a bargaining chips.
Greek authorities said in the 35 hours between Sunday and Monday morning, they had blocked 1, 728 attempts to cross the border and arrested two people – one Moroccan and one Egyptian.