NEWS

EU’s Tusk in Athens for migration talks as logjam intensifies

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European Council President Donald Tusk was expected in Athens Thursday for talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the migrant crisis, after the EU proposed 700 million euros in humanitarian aid for Greece and other states to help them cope with the influx at their borders.

Greece, which is under growing pressure as a result of border slowdowns and closures across the so-called Balkan route, would like to hear Tusk voice the bloc’s solidarity with Greece and criticize the unilateral measures taken by Austria and the Visegrad group.

“The challenge for Europe is to reaffirm its founding principles, humanitarianism, solidarity, or risk dissolution,” Tsipras said in a message on Twitter Wednesday.

In an interview with Slovak media earlier this week, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said that “we are coming to a moment when Greece is likely to be sacrificed.”

On Wednesday, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that Greece had to assume that the border at Idomeni would be closed to refugees and migrants. He also suggested that as a result of stricter border restrictions in other parts of Europe, migrants would no longer be able to pass swiftly through the country and that the current situation, with people being stuck in Greece for some time, might continue for the next two to three years.

Meanwhile Brussels announced plans for a 700-million-euro humanitarian aid package to prevent “a huge humanitarian crisis in Greece.”

The Commission’s proposal, if approved, will channel 300 million euros this year from its 155-billion-euro annual budget to the new emergency assistance scheme and 200 million euros both next year and in 2018.

Tusk, currently on a regional tour, will on Friday meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, ahead of the special summit in Brussels on Monday.