EU tells Turkey to pull illegal migrants back from Greek border

Erdogan and EU
Erdogan and EU
Image Credit: John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

The EU has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that if he wants support for his war in Syria, he must first stop encouraging illegal migrants to cross into Greece.

Erdogan flew to Brussels for talks with the European Union and NATO, amid tensions between Turkey and the European Union over illegal migrants.

Before talks with Erdoğan, the European Commission's president, Ursula von der Leyen said "the events at the Greek-Turkish border clearly point to politically motivated pressure on the EU's external border."

"Finding a solution to this situation will require relieving the pressure that is put on the border," she added.

As Erdoğan arrived in Brussels, he declared that he expected 'concrete support' from all allies. "NATO is in a critical period during which it needs to clearly show support. 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," he stated.

According to reports, during the meeting Von der Leyen stressed that the 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey, which Ankara agreed to block migrants from heading to Greece in exchange for 6 billion euros in financial aid, remains valid.

Once the meeting had concluded President of the European Council, Charles Michel stated that the top EU diplomat, Josep Borrell would be working with his Turkish counterpart Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the next few days "to be certain that we are on the same page that we have the same interpretation about what we do, in Turkey and at the level of the European Union, in order to implement the deal."

Erdoğan did not speak to the press after the meeting, however a Turkish presidential source only said: "The meeting at the EU was productive."

Between Sunday and Monday morning, Greek authorities reported that they had blocked 1,646 attempts to cross the border and arrested two people - one Moroccan and one Egyptian.