Migration sparks heated debate in the European Union

Migration sparks heated debate in the European Union

Heated negotiations are currently taking place on a technical level within the European Union regarding the fate of migrants who cross into Greece, as Athens seeks to strike a delicate balance between the two main lines of thought on the matter as expressed by Berlin and Paris.

The German perspective supports the idea of financial assistance being offered to Central Europe’s Visegrad countries and other states that have so far refused to take in migrants from Greece, while France seeks strict sanctions for states that do not follow Europe’s line.

At the same time, it is blatantly clear in Athens that Ankara is using the migration crisis as a tool to pressure Greece and to transform it into a bilateral issue of discussion.

Ankara’s stance was already apparent in late October when Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar proposed to his Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos that the migration issue be included in the discussions regarding confidence-building measures between the two countries – something which Athens rejected.

Sources say that Ankara is also using the migration issue as a lever of pressure on Athens regarding the eight Turkish servicemen that were granted asylum in Greece and which Ankara wants extradited for their alleged role in the 2016 coup attempt.

Moreover, Ankara claims Greece is harboring some 8,000 people that it says belong to the organization of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen who it says was behind the coup.

In addition, Turkish media reports over the last month have been presenting Greece as a country that mistreats migrants and returns them to Turkey in a violent manner.

On the other hand, Turkey is presented as a country that is hosting 4 million migrants and refugees. The explosion of flows in 2015-16 was clearly linked to the war in Syria.

However, the spike in flows over recent months, averaging 550 people per day, has been attributed to the EU’s tough stance toward Turkey over its violations of Cypriot sovereignty and Europe’s opposition to Turkish operations in Syria.

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