Neighboring countries pledge assistance to Greek authorities as migrants flow from Turkey
Greece’s neighboring countries have vowed to help Greek authorities defend its borders as tens of thousands of migrants continue to flood crossings points to illegally enter the EU from Turkey.
Violent scenes have been witnessed at the Greek-Turkish border as mobs of Middle Eastern migrants attempt to force their way through into Greece.
On Wednesday, Greek authorities fired tear gas and stun grenades to repulse a push by migrants to cross its land border from Turkey.
Pressure is continuing along Greece’s frontier after Turkey said its own border with the European Union was open to whoever wanted to cross.
In response, neighboring Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia pledged to help Greece to deal with mounting pressure along its border.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis warned the situation was serious and declared that the EU must protect its borders.
“We’re ready to help,” Babis said after meeting his counterparts from the other three countries.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country was ready to deploy guards at the Greek-Turkish border.
His Slovak counterpart, Peter Pellegrini, also warned that the growing number of migrants “poses a security threat not just for Greece.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that there are some 130,000 migrants on the move that the EU must stop from breaching its borders.
“Hungary will take an active role in doing so,” Orban vowed.
The four countries have been known for their tough stance against migrants and rejected an EU plan to redistribute refugees in member states.
Meanwhile, the European Council head Charles Michel was meeting with Turkey’s President Erdogan in Ankara Wednesday.
Meanwhile, EU Vice President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic were holding talks with Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Erdogan, Borell said that the EU delegation asked Turkey “not to encourage the further movement of refugees and migrants toward the EU borders.”
“We had the opportunity to express our understanding of the difficult situation Turkey is currently facing but also stressed that the current developments at the European borders is not leading to any solution,” he said.
Borell also told reporters that Turkish officials’ response was that Turkey was not encouraging people to move but that “they cannot prevent people from doing so.”
Greek authorities said there were about 15,000 people along the Greek-Turkish land border on Wednesday.
They said that between Saturday morning and Wednesday morning, they had blocked 27,832 attempts to cross the border, and had arrested a total of 220 people who managed to cross.
Ankara has come under harsh criticism from some European countries.
“The people are being used by President Erdogan as a political football, as weapons and as instruments of pressure on the European Union,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Tuesday.