EU Foreign Ministers rejected Turkey’s attempts to use migrants to extert pressure, during an extraordinary meeting in Zagreb last week.
The ministers also expressed solidarity with border countries Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria.
Turkey’s move last week to open its borders with Greece to refugees seeking to flee to the EU has been condemned as blackmail. as he seeks more support from the international community in Syria.
The migrant drama began after Russian-backed Syrian forces killed 34 Turkish troops in northern Syria, prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to seek greater assistance from allies — both military and to support 3.7 million refugees and migrants currently hosted in Turkey.
“The EU reiterates its serious concern over the situation at the Greek-Turkish border and strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes,” an EU statement said following the ministerial meeting.
‘’Migrants should not be encouraged to attempt illegal crossings by land or sea. The Council calls on the Turkish government and all actors and organisations on the ground to relay this message and counter the dissemination of false information,’’ the statement added.
The EU Foreign Ministers said hat they expect Turkey to implement fully the provisions of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal under which the EU pledged to disburse €6 billion to Turkey to finance housing, schools and medical centres for refugees who have fled Syria’s civil war, aimed to prevent refugees and migrants from crossing to Greece.
Turkey hosts some 3.6 million refugees from the civil war in Syria, its southern neighbour, and faces a further big influx due to continued fighting.
“Turkey has a big burden … and we have to understand that,” EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said.
“But at the same time, we cannot accept that migrants are being used as a source of pressure,” he said.