- Title: Greek PM calls on Erdogan to pull migrants from border
- Date: 9th March 2020
- Summary: KASTANIES, EVROS, GREECE (MARCH 9, 2020) (REUTERS) FIELD IN FRONT OF BORDER FENCE COMPLETELY MOWED AND CLEARED ON GREEK SIDE VARIOUS OF NEW BARBED WIRE SET ALONG FENCE, TENTS OF MIGRANTS SEEN IN THE DISTANCE ON TURKISH SIDE DUG UP GROUND PACKED INTO CONTAINERS NEAR FENCE AS EMBANKMENTS
- Keywords: Greece Mitsotakis Turkey border migrants
- Reuters ID: LVA001C4BZEPZ
- Location: KASTANIES, GREECE AND BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: KASTANIES, GREECE AND BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Greece
- Duration: 00:00:19
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday (March 9) he hoped a meeting by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan with EU leaders would mark the beginning of the de-escalation of a crisis on the borders of the two countries.
"I believe this is a positive development and I hope it is the beginning of the de-escalation of the crisis," said Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis, speaking in Berlin after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said if Turkey wanted to review a 2016 pact agreed to with the European Union to stem the flow of migrants towards Europe, it would have to immediately pull back migrants who had gathered at the Kastanies border in the Evros region.
"Greece always...recognized and recognizes that Turkey has a critical role to play in handling of the refugee problem, and it needs the help of Europe to do it, but this cannot happen - and I think everyone realizes it now - under conditions of threats and blackmail using fleeing people as pawns," he said.
Erdogan will seek European financial, political and military support in talks on Monday with EU and NATO leaders but will be told he must first stop encouraging migrants to cross his country's borders into Greece.
Tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to get into Greece, an EU member state, since Ankara said on Feb. 28 it would no longer try to keep them on its territory as agreed in a 2016 deal in return for billions of euros in aid for refugees.
Turkey hosts some 3.6 million refugees from Syria, where its troops are facing off against Russian-backed Syrian government forces. Erdogan repeated his criticism on Sunday that the EU had failed to provide sufficient help for the refugees.
The EU is keen to avoid a repeat of the 2015-2016 migrant crisis, when more than one million people, mostly from the Middle East and Asia, reached the EU via Turkey and Greece.
That flow was largely halted by the 2016 deal, which the EU hopes to salvage, though Turkey now fears a new influx of refugees following an upsurge in fighting in Syria. The EU says it has so far paid about half of a promised 6 billion euros to help Turkey finance housing, schools and medical centres for the refugees on its soil. It has dangled the prospect of further aid, but has yet to deliver.
On the Kastanies border crossing on Monday, which in the last days has been the scene of exchanges of tear gas on both sides and where migrants have accumulated, there was relative calm. Witnesses said many migrants had moved away from the fence and Greek forces on the Greek side of the border were building embankments in front of the frontier.
(Production: Gennady Novik, Deborah Kyvrikosaios)
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