Athens, February 19, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
Alexis Tsipras was expected to defend Greece against several countries demanding it is “frozen out” of the Schengen Area during an EU Council meeting in Brussels held Thursday.
Instead, the pressure was piled on Turkey to address the refugee crisis bringing thousands of people to Europe via the country, by applying the aid-for-cooperation deal signed between the two sides. According to reports, EU leaders called for “the full and speedy implementation” of the plan agreed by the EU and Turkey in November 2015.
Leaders of EU countries were due to meet on Thursday morning with Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss Turkey’s role in stemming the migratory flow but a bomb blast in Ankara on Wednesday which killed 28 people led to Davutoglu calling off the trip.
“We need to see a substantial and sustainable reduction of the number of illegal entries from Turkey into the EU” draft summit conclusions mentioned.
The future of Europe does not include building walls and stoking xenophobia, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said as he arrived at the European Council Summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday evening.
“Europe is in a critical, very critical crossroads because we have to tackle three crises at the same time: The financial crisis which remains, the security crisis and the refugee crisis. So we must remain united and show solidarity – but united and with solidarity everywhere. Not only in the northwestern side of Europe, but also in the southeastern and in the Mediterranean,” he told journalists.
“The solution to the refugee crisis is not building fences and promoting racism in Europe. The future of Europe is not walls and xenophobia and European rules cannot only be for some and a la carte for others,” he added.
Tsipras told EU leaders during the summit that comprehensive and collective solutions need to be found for Europe, adding that if this is not possible, it will be better to postpone the summit’s conclusions document until the EU finds solutions on which everyone agrees on.
“Sending troops or gendarmerie to our borders is an unfriendly action” Alexis Tsipras told Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka during a meeting they held.
- Sobotka told A. Tsipras that “we will help you and everyone involved” with the Greek PM replying that Greece cannot implement anything that is contrary to international law.
“If you want us to drown them [refugees], forget it” Alexis Tsipras reportedly said and requested time for the agreed European policy on dealing with the refugee crisis to be fully implemented.
Arriving at the EU Council summit German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it is necessary to find a solution supported by all 28 member states of the European Union and stressed the need to tackle refugee traffickers.
She added that the migration issue is still on the top of EU agenda adding that the EU should protect its external borders.
A tripartite meeting between the leaders of Greece, Germany and France is scheduled for Friday morning.