Greece says it expects “strong” support from the European Union (EU) leaders to help resolve a deepening refugee crisis at its border with Turkey, as diplomats from the bloc arrived in the border area for a meeting on the matter.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and European Parliament President David Sassoli in the border region of Evros on Tuesday, according to a government source.
During the meeting, Mitsotakis said Athens expected “strong support” from the bloc, which admitted that the challenge that “Greece is facing right now is a European challenge.”
Thousands of refugees have arrived at Turkey’s border with Greece since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that his government would no longer stop them trying to enter Europe.
The Greek government said its army and police prevented some 24,203 people from crossing the border from Turkey between Saturday and Monday night. Footage released by the Greek government on Monday showed Greek officers firing tear gas and clashing with refugees on the Turkish border.
Greece’s Skai TV said Greeks were using loudspeakers in the Kastanies border area to tell migrants, in English and Arabic, “The borders are shut!”
Turkey announced last week that it would no longer prevent refugees from reaching the EU in an attempt to pressure EU governments over the Syrian conflict across its southern border.
Back in 2016, Turkey signed a six-billion-euro (6.7-billion-dollar) deal with the EU to hold back any refugees hoping to cross into Greece.