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Iran Press TV

EU accuses Turkey of using migrants to pressure Europe

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 04 March 2020 6:02 PM

European Union member states say the bloc "strongly rejects" what it sees as Turkey's use of migrants for political ends, after Turkey opened its borders with Syria and allowed thousands of migrants to pour into the continent via Greece.

In a statement agreed by ministers meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, the 27 capitals said the "situation at the EU's external borders is not acceptable."

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government had denied that it was using the threat of a wave of migrants to "blackmail" the EU.

But the EU statement said the meeting "strongly rejects Turkey's use of migratory pressure for political purposes".

EU members insist Turkey must stick to a previous deal in which it agreed to prevent refugees and migrants from crossing to Greece.

"Illegal crossings will not be tolerated," the statement said. "In this regard, the EU and its member states will take all necessary measures, in accordance with EU and international law.

"Migrants should not be encouraged to endanger their lives by attempting illegal crossings by land or sea."

The ministers urged Turkey to "relay this message and counter the dissemination of false information."

Earlier in the day, France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Europe will "not be blackmailed" by the Turkish government over the migrants issue.

The developments came two days after Erdogan said Ankara had no plans to stop the flow of migrants into the EU, warning that "millions of refugees" will soon be moving toward Turkey's borders with the bloc.

The Turkish president also called on Europe to help take responsibility for the migrant crisis triggered by violence in the region.

Last week, Turkey relaxed curbs on the migrants' movement through its borders and said Ankara would no longer prevent hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers in its territory from reaching Europe despite an agreement struck with the EU in 2016, under which Ankara was committed to stop the refugee flow into Europe in exchange for financial assistance from Europe.

Ankara complains that funds promised by the EU to help it deal with the 3.7 million Syrian refugees already in the country have been slow to arrive. Turkey's government had warned in the past that it would open the floodgates if it did not receive more funding.

The massing of migrants has caused fears of a repeat of the 2015 European migrant crisis, in which more than one million people crossed into Europe, most of them fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa.

Nearly 13,000 refugees have been blocked from entering Greece since the Turkish president said his country would allow refugees into Europe in an attempt to pressure the EU governments over the conflict in Syria across its southern border.

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