Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Tuesday during a visit to Turkey that Greece must be supported as it is under great pressure from refugee flows, while reminding his counterpart and host Mevlut Cavusoglu of the important work conducted for the protection of Europe’s borders by EU border agency Frontex.
Cavusoglu had accused Greece and Frontex of “inhumane treatment” of refugees, repeating Turkish allegations that “Greece has continued its pushback policy by openly violating human rights in violation of international law.”
“Many migrants lost their lives because of the pushbacks, because Greece pierced the boats. The European Union is as guilty as Greece,” said Cavusoglu, whose remarks that “Europe’s borders are not protected by Greece, but by Turkey” raised some eyebrows, and, it seemed, Haavisto’s.
“I must defend Europe and Frontex and the whole border protection system,” Haavisto said, while referring to the recent incidents in the fall on the borders of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania with Belarus.
He said there was a wave of refugees pushed by Belarusian soldiers to the borders of those countries.
“There we tried to resolve the issue in cooperation with these countries and Frontex,” he said. Several analysts understood his reference to a wave of refugees being pushed by soldiers as an indirect swipe at Turkey for the incidents that unfolded in March 2020 at Evros, when Turkey tried to facilitate the movement of tens of thousands of migrants and refugees across the Greek border.
The Finnish foreign minister also showed his strong support to Athens, stating that Greece and Italy are under great pressure from refugee flows, and stressing that everyone must jointly lift the weight of this refugee wave.
These countries, Haavisto noted, are at the forefront and must be supported.