Mitsotakis calls on Turkey to remove migrants stuck in buffer zone


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on Turkey on Monday to de-escalate tensions at the border with Greece by taking back the thousands of migrants who have gathered hoping to cross into Europe.

Addressing the German-Hellenic Economic Forum in Berlin, he accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “demolishing” the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement that essentially halted migration to Europe, adding that if he wants a review of the deal he must “remove the desperate people in Evros” and “stop spreading fake news and propaganda” against Greece.

Mitsotakis also suggested that Erdogan should also examine other possible improvements to the deal, such as joint patrolling to control the flow of migrants at the Turkish border and pointed out that the return of those who illegally enter Greece should be possible from mainland Greece, as well as the islands.

"We are entering a new phase as regards migration. President Erdogan will be in Brussels this afternoon and I consider this development positive. I hope it is the start of a de-escalation of the crisis," he told the conference.

Greece recognizes that Turkey has played a crucial role in the management of the refugee issue but “this can't be done using threats and blackmail,' he added.

The prime minister then asked for an agreement for the voluntary relocation of migrant children and teenagers from Greece to Europe. "I call on the countries to participate in this tangible proof of solidarity," he said.

Mitsotakis also referred to the spread of coronavirus and Greece's measures, noting that further coordination is required at a European level.

"It is clear that 2020 will be a different year from what we predicted and that fiscal targets probably will not be met. We must react quickly," the prime minister said.