Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will hold talks in Brussels on Monday as he calls on Greece to “open the doors” to Turkish border migrants who are trying to get to Europe.
Amidst tensions on the land border between Turkey and Greece – where thousands of migrants have massed after Turkish authorities announced they will no longer prevent them from entering the EU – Erdogan said he would use Monday’s meeting to discuss “different results” with Brussels.
In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, Erdogan urged Greece to open its border after clashes in recent days between migrants and the Greek police.
“Hey Greece! I appeal to you … open the doors too and free yourself from this burden,” he said, adding, “Let them go to other European countries.”
Erdogan will meet the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels at 6 p.m. local time (5 p.m. GMT) Monday.
Turkey has repeatedly denounced what it describes as an unfair burden-sharing, as around four million refugees, mainly Syrians, live in Turkey.
In 2016, Turkey and the EU agreed to an agreement that Brussels would provide billions of euros in aid in return for the Turkish authorities who are curbing the flow of migrants in the bloc, but Ankara has repeatedly accused l EU not to respect the promises made.
Erdogan’s main press secretary Fahrettin Altun said that one of the unfulfilled conditions was that the EU would accept refugees from Turkey.
On Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Michel met Erdogan in Ankara when Turkey demanded more support for the conflict and for migrants.
After the talks, Borrell pledged an additional 170 million euros ($ 192 million) in aid for vulnerable groups in Syria.
Fire damages migrant shelter in Lesbos, Greece
As the confrontation between Turkey and Greece intensified, a fire broke out in a refugee center on the Greek island of Lesvos, the Greek fire service said on Sunday, causing considerable damage. at a warehouse but no casualties.
It was the second fire in a facility built for migrants, after a reception center was set on fire by unknown perpetrators last week. The warehouse, which contained furniture and electrical appliances, was completely destroyed, according to Greek firefighters.
Greece has deployed riot police and border guards to repel people trying to enter the country, and the Greek border area has since experienced violent clashes between them and the migrants. Young people threw stones at Greek police on Saturday and tried to break down a border barrier.
Cyprus sends security forces to Greek-Turkish border
Meanwhile, Cyprus has announced that it will send security forces to the Greek-Turkish land border to help protect it. Greek government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said in a statement that the decision to send the force was announced by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a telephone conversation they had had Sunday morning.
“The President’s proposal was gratefully accepted by the Greek Prime Minister and, therefore, a force of the Cypriot security forces will immediately travel to Greece to defend and guard the borders of Greece and Europe,” said the Cypriot government.
The Greek government has released a video purporting to show a Turkish armored vehicle trying to knock down part of the border barrier with a rope. He said the vehicle was purchased in part with European border funds. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the video. There were no immediate comments from the Turkish authorities.
Anastasiades accused Turkey of “using refugees to raise funds” after a hundred African nationals crossed the border from the northern part of the Turkish-occupied island to Cyprus, which has the highest number of refugees per capita of the EU.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)