VIENNA – Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Tuesday accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “deliberately” organising the mass arrival of refugees and migrants at the Greek border, noting that this was “entirely targeted” and that there were no arrivals at the border with neighbouring Bulgaria.
He pointed out that 13,000 people had arrived at the Greek border in just a few days and, at the same time, there were no arrivals at the border with Bulgaria, showing that this mass advance was not a chance event but organised, while those arriving were not refugees from Idlib in Syria but people that had been living in Turkey for years.
According to Kurz, these people were being used by Erdogan as weapons, as a means to put pressure on the European Union, something that should be extremely strongly condemned and demanded the greatest possible support for Greece, as well as unity within the EU.
He underlined that Turkey must uphold the agreement with the EU on migration, through which it received billions of euros, and said that he was in favour of helping Turkey provided it offered organised and humane care for refugees.
If Turkey failed to uphold the agreement, he warned, there were multiple ways in which the EU could put pressure on Turkey, adding that the EU must not let itself be blackmailed. If the EU failed to put pressure on Turkey, he noted, “then we not only show weakness but that will be the beginning of the end.”
Austria was willing to stand at Greece’s side and resist Erdogan’s actions, Kurz said, warning that allowing Turkey to prevail “will bring hundreds of thousands [of migrants] and Europe without internal borders will then be history.”
According to Kurz, this was a test for the EU and whether it was able to protect its external borders, noting that the EU needed to stop Erdogan exploiting migrants for his political goals.
“We are in contact with the Greeks, who have our full support for the measures to protect the borders and we are discussing how we can contribute financially and also with police officers,” Kurz said, adding that he was in constant contact with the Greek and Bulgarian prime ministers and the European Commission.
(ANA/ D. Dimitrakoudis)