Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday a migrant crisis on its borders with Turkey was an "asymmetrical threat" to the borders of the European Union, noting that Greece and the European Union will not be blackmailed.
"This is no longer a refugee problem. This is a blatant attempt by Turkey to use desperate people to promote its geopolitical agenda and to divert attention from the horrible situation in Syria," he told journalists at a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commisson head Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament head David Sassoli, with whom he toured the Greek-Turkish border earlier in the day.
Mitsotakis said the people who tried to enter Greece in the past few days did not come from the war-torn Syrian province of Idlib, but had been living safely in Turkey for a long period of time.
"Europe will not be blackmailed by Turkey over the refugee issue. We stand ready to support Turkey in dealing with its refugee problem and find a solution to the Syria conundrum but not under these circumstances. My duty is to protect the sovereignty of my country," he said.
"Unfortunately, Turkey has turned into an official migrant trafficker," he continued in comments made in Greek, citing official statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and videos on social media showing Turkish officials offering free rides to the Greek border.
Mitsotakis reiterated that Greece will protect its border, which is also the external border of the European Union, adding that Athens expects "tangible solidarity" from the European Union.
"But let's be honest. The EU has not been up to the task of dealing with the migration crisis. I hope this crisis will serve as a wake up call for everyone," he said, noting he hoped the current crisis would serve as a wake up call for Europe to assume its responsibilities.