Migrants: Erdogan calls for EU support in Syria, border clashes

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that a solution to the migration crisis needed European support in Ankara, Syria, when new clashes broke out between refugees and police on the Greek border.

According to Turkish authorities, one migrant was killed and five were wounded by “live ammunition” from Greek forces while trying to cross the border. Athens has “categorically denied”.

Tens of thousands of people have flocked to Greece since Erdogan ordered the opening of his country’s borders on Friday, raising fears in Europe of a migration crisis similar to that of 2015.

Faced with this new influx, several European leaders have denounced a “blackmail” of Ankara which, under the terms of an agreement concluded with Brussels in 2016, undertook to fight against illegal passages in exchange in particular for financial aid .

“If European countries want to solve the problem, then they must support Turkish political and humanitarian solutions in Syria,” Erdogan said on Wednesday in a speech in Ankara.

After a two-day visit to the Turkish capital, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell announced the release of emergency aid of 170 million euros “for the most vulnerable in Syria”.

– “They shoot” –

On the ground, new scuffles broke out at the Pazarkule border post (Kastanies, Greek side). Migrants threw stones at the Greek security forces, which retaliated by using tear gas.

The governorate of Edirne (northwestern Turkey) said in a statement that six migrants trying to cross into Pazarkule were injured by Greek gunfire. One died from chest wounds, the source said.

“They shoot with weapons. Those who go there (near the border) are immediately shot. They also launch tear gas canisters,” Syrian refugee Mustafa told AFP.

An AFP photographer saw a migrant injured in the leg by gunfire from the Greek side. Another AFP reporter saw two migrants in a nearby Turkish hospital, one of whom had a profuse bleeding tibia wound.

Shots in the air, the origin of which could not be determined, shouts, police sirens could be heard. Smoke came from a big fire.

Athens, which accuses Ankara of spreading “false information,” claimed that Turkish police had fired tear gas canisters against Greek police in Pazarkule.

Since the borders were opened by Ankara, some 1,720 migrants have joined the Aegean islands, according to Athens, adding to the 38,000 exiles already present on these Greek territories.

– Negotiations –

In his speech on Wednesday, Erdogan accused Europeans of “trampling” on human rights by “beating, sinking boats and even shooting” at migrants seeking to reach Europe.

Alarmed by the influx of migrants, the European Union dispatched, in addition to Mr Borrell, the President of the European Council Charles Michel who was received on Wednesday by Mr Erdogan.

The day before, several senior European officials had gone to Greece to express their support and promise “all the necessary help” in Athens.

“Those who seek to test the unity of Europe will be disappointed,” warned European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ankara’s decision to open its borders comes at a time when Turkey is seeking Western support in Syria, when it is carrying out an offensive and when it is faced with an influx of displaced people.

The offensive that the regime has been waging since December in Idlib, the last rebel and jihadist stronghold in north-western Syria, has indeed caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with nearly a million people displaced towards the Turkish border.


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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.