Greece secured the support of its European Union partners on Tuesday as it faces a crisis on its borders with Turkey.
Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis held a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament head David Sassoli.
After touring the Greek-Turkish border with the Greek premier, Ursula von der Leyen made clear that the EU will assist Greece in safeguarding its borders as Ankara controversially pushes thousands of migrants towards Europe.
Local media reports suggest the Mitsotakis administration has achieved its objective of securing diplomatic support and condemnation of Turkey’s actions.
“The situation at our border is not only for Greece issue to manage it is the responsibility of Europe as a whole,” the European Commission chief said. “Those who seem to test Europe’s unity will be disappointed. We will hold the line and our unity will prevail,” she added.
Responding to Kyriacos Mitsotakis’s call for solidarity at these testing times for Greece, Frontex revealed plans to send a rapid deployment team along with 100 new border guards at the land and sea borders. Athens will also be handed 700 million euros to help tackle the crisis.
Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, Rear-Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev, said Turkey was trying to push 130,000 refugees from Syria into Greece. The statement supports Athens’ argument that it is facing an “asymmetrical threat” by neighboring Turkey.
Analysts point out that Turkey is attempting to “blackmail” the EU by ignoring a 2016 deal with the bloc to prevent people on its soil from heading to Europe. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has complained that the EU has not released the funds it agreed to give Ankara.
A European Council meeting at the end of March is expected to discuss the EU’s response in greater detail. However, there have been calls to bring the meeting forward./ibna