Athens hoping for EU-Turkey talks to ease tension over refugee crisis - Guardian

Greece maintains hope that upcoming talks between the EU and Turkey will help ease the border crisis, which followed a decision by Ankara to  “open the gates” to Europe for migrants and refugees, the Guardian said on Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are set to enter talks with Turkish President Recep Erdoğan on Tuesday after the latter made good on a threat on February 27 to abandon a 2016 deal and open borders for migrants heading for Europe. The move prompted tens of thousands of refugees to amass at Greece’s eastern border. 

Neither Brussels nor Athens wants a repeat of the dangerously chaotic scenes at the Greek-Turkish border earlier this month, the Guardian said. 

Greek police fired tear gas at refugees and migrants attempting to cross the border as Ankara and Athens accused each other of using the migrants for their own political gains. 

“Now that things have quieted down, this is the time to set the record straight and make sure that what has happened is not going to happen again,” the article quoted  Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as saying.

The revision of the bloc’s 2016 deal with Turkey might be the best way of ensuring similar crises didn’t erupt again, the Greek prime minister said.

According to the 2016 deal, the EU promised the allocation of €3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, but the visa restrictions still remain. Furthermore, both parties agreed to “re-energise” Turkey’s EU bid.

“I think, eventually, he will have to acknowledge the fact that there is a win-win solution going forward, that we need to go back to the agreement, improve it in certain aspects,” Mitsotakis said.

Thousands of asylum seekers remain at the Turkish land border bent on crossing into Greece, the Guardian said, as the threat of Covid-19 threatens the globe.

Mitsotakis, who is juggling two crises, migration and coronavirus , has been the first to call for a breakthrough, it said.

“We have to have strong economic ties. We have our differences, we need a roadmap to resolve them,” Mitsotakis said in talking about Greece’s relations with Turkey.