EU-Turkish asylum and immigration agreement “dead”
Saturday, 07 March 2020
The EU-Turkish agreement that had limited the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe since 2016 is “dead,” the Greek Prime Minister said on Friday.
He also accused the Turkish government of “assisting” the thousands of people rushing to the Greek-Turkish border.
“Let’s be honest, the agreement is dead now,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said when appearing on American news channel CNN.
“It’s dead because Turkey has decided to completely violate the agreement because of what happened in Syria,” he added.
Thousands of migrants have been gathering along the Greek-Turkish border since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed his country would no longer try and prevent them to attempt to get to Europe last week.
Erdogan announced his decision after several dozen Turkish soldiers died during an air raid in Syria.
Greek security forces said they have stopped 39,000 people from crossing the border since then. Turkey has claimed the real figure is more than three times that.
Turkey agreed to no longer let migrants cross the border into Europe in exchange for six billion euros back in 2016. But it said other parts of the agreement with the EU, such as facilitating visas and the installation of certain trade rules, have not been respected.
Mitsotakis said Turkey was doing the “exact opposite” of its obligation to stop asylum seekers.
“They have systematically assisted people in their attempt to get to Greece, either by sea or by land” he said.
The Greek Prime Minister admitted that Turkey was currently dealing with nearly four million Syrian refugees, but said “Turkey is not going to blackmail Europe with this.”
“We’re not the ones making this conflict worse. We have every right to protect our sovereign borders,” he said.