On Sunday, the Greek government urged the European Union to help Athens quickly protect its borders, which are serve as the external borders of the Europe, due to thousands of migrants trying to reach the country from Turkey.
After a special meeting, the Greek government also announced it would increase the level of border surveillance to the maximum degree and refuse to accept asylum applications from migrants illegally crossing the Greek border this month.
If possible, Greece will immediately return these refugees to their country of origin.
The situation on the Greek border with Turkey descended into chaos this weekend after Ankara announced that it would no longer prevent migrants from leaving Turkey. With Turkey’s decision, it ceased to adhere to the 2016 agreement with the EU in which it promised to help stop the migration wave to Europe in exchange for financial assistance from Brussels.
Since Friday, thousands of migrants arrived at the Turkish border with Greece and, according to some sources, the Turkish authorities also paid buses to take refugees to the border town of Edirne.
On Friday, the Greek government has reinforced border control and sent additional troops to help police. On Sunday, soldiers tried to prevent illegal crossings using tear gas and water cannons.
According to some NGOs, at least 15,000 refugees have arrived at the border, although the Turkish government announced that 80,900 migrants are attempting to cross.
As Greece asked the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for help, Borrell urged EU countries to hold a special meeting of foreign ministers this week. Furthermore, he urged an immediate ceasefire between the warring parties in the Syrian province of Idlib, which borders Turkey. According to Borrell, the EU must redouble its efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Idlib “by all means at its disposal”.
This Tuesday, President of the European Council Charles Michel, along with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will also visit the Greek-Turkish border.
“Support for Greek efforts to protect the European borders. Closely monitoring the situation on the ground,” wrote Michel on Twitter.
Support for Greek efforts to protect the European borders. Closely monitoring the situation on the ground.
I will be visiting the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday with @PrimeministerGR Mitsotakis.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) March 1, 2020
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened repeatedly to open Turkey’s borders. Last week, after the killing of three dozen Turkish soldiers in Idlib province during the Syrian air raids, he announced that he is going to follow through with his threat.
According to the UN, about a million Syrians fled from Idlib to the Turkish borders because of the intensifying conflict since December. Ankara has long complained that other countries are not helping the country with the influx of Syrian migrants.
Turkey has received almost 4 million refugees since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011.