NEWS

Dendias asks for EU foreign ministers' meeting on migration

TAGS: Diplomacy

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was busy Saturday contacting his counterparts in several European countries, as well  as the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell Fontelles, whom he asked to convene an extraordinary meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Dendias also talked on the phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Bulgaria's Ekaterina Zakharieva, North Macedonia's Nikola Dimitrov and Austria's Alexander Schallenberg. With the latter three, he discussed the likelihood of an explosive growth in migrant flows after Turkey's decision to open its borders and push the migrants living within its territory to leave for EU countries.

European officials have expressed their support for Greece's and Bulgaria's efforts to safeguard their borders with Turkey.

The office of the Presidenty of the European Council, Charles Michel said, in a statement, that "over the last days President Michel has...been in close contact with PM Mitsotakis and PM Borissov to follow the migration situation. The EU is actively engaged to uphold the EU-Turkey Statement and to support Greece and Bulgaria to protect the EU’s external borders."

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in a tweet (in German) expressed his support and repeated his Interior Minister's statement that Austria is ready to send police officers to help:

"A situation like 2015 must never be repeated. Our goal must be to properly protect the EU's external borders (and) stop illegal migrants there...Austria is also ready to support the countries on the external border with additional police officers, as Interior Minister @karlnehammer emphasized yesterday. If the protection of the EU's external border is unsuccessful, Austria will protect its borders," Kurtz said.

On the other hand, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded aggressively to a tweet by Dendias, who said that Greece's response has been one of self-restrained and that "respect for international law is stronger than any delinquency."

Cavusoglu posted this in response:

"Look who’s lecturing us on international law! They’re shamelessly throwing tear gas bombs on thousands of innocents piled at their gates. We don’t have an obligation to stop people leaving our country but #Greece has the duty to treat them as human beings!"

Greek police sources say that, since 6 p.m. local time, migrants have lobbed at least 20 tear gas canisters across the borders. The markings show that the canisters belon, or used to belong, to Turkish police.

Online