The European Union’s foreign chiefs and top officials will hold an extraordinary Foreign Council meeting over a spiking refugee and migrant crisis that saw Greece’s borders – the far edge of the European Union’s perimeter – facing hordes sent from Turkey.
They had first gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands as well as economic migrants – trying to get to Greece and get sanctuary after the European Union closed its borders to them.
Thousands were sent to Greece’s border by human traffickers that Turkey had already let operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, infuriated by the deaths of dozens of Turkish soldiers in Syria, sent thousands more refugees and migrants to the Greek border.
Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called the meeting at the request of Greece’s New Democracy Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, with the government trying to contain the crisis that hit at the same time as a coronavirus scare.
In his statement, Borrell said the EU-Turkey swap deal needs to be upheld even as it has begun to unravel and with no effort yet to meet with Erdogan or urge him to back off sending the refugees and migrants.
Noting that the Bulgarian border is also being impacted, he wrote – EU leaders rarely meet with reporters so they can avoid taking questions – “The ongoing renewed fighting in and around Idlib represents a serious threat to international peace and security. It is causing an untold human suffering among the population, and having a grave impact on the region and beyond. The European Union needs to redouble efforts to address this terrible human crisis with all the means at its disposal.
He said he had met with what he called “key actors” without identifying them and said he had called “for an immediate de-escalation and for a lasting ceasefire, deplored the loss of lives, and offered EU support to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. There is only a political solution to this crisis.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, the country holding the EU’s rotating 6-month Presidency, declared its support for Bulgaria and Greece.
“EU Presidency stands by #Greece & #Bulgaria striving hard to protect #EU’s borders – We express full solidarity & stand ready to assist,” it tweeted without explaining what it could do either.