Greek PM heading to Turkey for talks on refugees

Greek PM heading to Turkey for talks on refugees

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to start an official visit to Turkey on Tuesday for talks that are to focus on the refugee crisis with a renewed sense of urgency after authorities established that one of the suspected terrorists in the Paris attacks traveled through Greece with a Syrian passport on the migrant Balkan trail.

Tsipras is to begin his visit to Istanbul by attending a friendly match between the Greek and Turkish national soccer teams with his counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday. On Wednesday, following a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, Tsipras is to travel to Ankara, where he is to have talks with Davutoglu and meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A series of Greek government officials have emphasized that the refugee crisis and the problem of terrorism should not be confused. Several European officials including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have made similar statements, as has Erdogan.

Although Greek government officials appear to be buoyed by such positive statements, there are fears that any shift in European policy on the refugee crisis could put more pressure on Greece, which is already struggling with an influx of migrants seeking to enter Europe via the Aegean.

“It is quite likely that powerful countries will backtrack and change stance,” one senior government official told Kathimerini.

On Sunday, Greece’s minister responsible for migration issues, Yiannis Mouzalas, said the registration and relocation of refugees should be carried out from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, not Greece.

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