Greece Says Turkey's ‘Blackmail Diplomacy’ Must End
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias called on Turkey to end what he described as the "blackmail diplomacy" in regard to the refugees and migrants' issue.
"From the summer of 2015 until early 2016, the EU faced a massive influx of asylum seekers, most of them fleeing the conflict in Syria. About 1 million people entered Europe, most of them from Turkey, by arriving on Greek islands in the Aegean," he said, The Financial Times reported.
To address this influx and alleviate the burden, the EU and Turkey reached a political agreement in March 2016. This led to a massive reduction of arrivals to the EU from Turkey and proved that Turkey is able to control the flow of migrants and refugees, he added.
Dendias noted that the deal included a series of commitments, which the EU has stood by. However, Turkey has sought to tie the arrangement to EU support of its projects in northern Syria and beyond, and to extract more funds.
"Following losses that Turkey suffered in Idlib, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made good on his threats and “opened the gates” to all those seeking to build a better future in Europe. Turkey unilaterally abrogated its responsibilities linked to the 2016 EU-Turkey statement," he stressed, FT reported.
In their efforts to enter, the migrants and refugees used violence, throwing stones and tear gas manufactured in Turkey, against Greek border guards. Turkish security forces encouraged them or, at best, turned a blind eye.
"More than 60 per cent of those arrested for illegally crossing the Greek border were Afghans. Less than 10 per cent were Syrians, and even they had been living in Turkey for years."
Dendias said Greece was acting to protect its border, stressing that EU stood by Athens' side.
"We believe we acted in compliance with international and local law, and as a legitimate response to Turkish provocations."