FIERCE clashes, tear gas at border as Greece vows to ‘turn back’ flow of migrants from Turkey (VIDEOS)
Athens vowed to turn back migrants coming in droves from Turkey, announcing maximum “deterrence” at the border. Thousands are trying get into the EU after Ankara declared its border “open,” but were met with tear gas.
For the second day in a row, the Greek border is being besieged by thousands of migrants trying to get into the EU. While some braved the waters in small dinghies to land on Greek islands, large crowds gathered at land border crossings only to be turned away.
“When I heard that the borders opened, I have come from Afghanistan to Turkey. Turkey border is open but Greece borders are closed,” one migrant told RT’s Ruptly video agency.
Some migrants attempted to sneak in, cutting through the border fence erected by Greece after the 2015 migrant crisis, while others tried to force their way in. Footage from the scene shows migrants trying to break through the border crossings, pelting Greek police with stones and setting objects on fire. Police responded with tear gas.
The migrants are reluctant to back down. Drone footage shows them camping right outside the Greek border, lighting campfires to keep warm at night.
Greece, however, appears resolved not to let the migrants in. PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that it has increased “the level of deterrence at our borders to the maximum,” while suspending the reception of asylum applications for a month.
Our national security council has taken the decision to increase the level of deterrence at our borders to the maximum. As of now we will not be accepting any new asylum applications for 1 month. We are invoking article 78.3 of the TFEU to ensure full European support.— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) March 1, 2020
Athens has blamed Turkey for the crisis, accusing it of deliberately funneling migrants towards the border and using them “as pawns to exert diplomatic pressure.”
“This movement is guided and encouraged by Turkey,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Sunday. “Under the present conditions the present situation is an active, serious, severe and asymmetrical threat to the national security of the country.”
The escalation at the Turkish-Greek border follows Ankara’s decision to allow the migrant flow into the EU. According to the authorities, Turkey is “no longer in position to hold them.” According to official Turkish figures, over 100,000 migrants “have left” the country through the Edirne border crossing as of Sunday evening.
Turkey and the EU reached an agreement on migration in 2016. The EU agreed to provide €6 billion ($6.6 billion) to help resettle the displaced, while Ankara promised to not let asylum seekers into Europe. Over the years, however, Ankara has repeatedly threatened to open the borders and flood Europe with migrants.
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