On a visit to Greece – on the frontline of Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II – Tusk told economic migrants it was pointless to apply for asylum in the European Union.
European Council President Tusk ended a six-nation tour of migration crisis countries in Turkey, where 850,000 migrants and refugees left previous year for Greek islands. Recently, Austria restricted the number of migrants allowed to enter the country to 37,500 for this year, causing a chain reaction among Balkan countries, including Serbia, which introduced the same limitations to stop migrants stuck on their territory.
“This is an extremely critical moment for the future of Europe and Greece“, Mr Tsipras said.
The tensions are being felt all along the migrants’ and refugees’ journey to Western Europe. Should that happen, Berlin would start taking refugees directly from Turkey for resettlement – an attempt to promote legal migration rather than continuing the chaotic influx of 2015.
European Correspondent for The Irish Examiner, Ann Cahill, has said the EU’s Schengen passport-free system has collapsed: “Whatever country a migrant comes into first, is where they are supposed to be identified, fingerprinted and decision taken if they have made an appeal for asylum”.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, which now holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, told reporters he hoped Turkey would agree Monday ‘to accelerate readmission of third country nationals and economic migrants’.
Greece, its economy blighted by the euro zone debt crisis, has asked for 480 million euros to help cope with 100,000 migrants.
But a series of restrictions imposed by Austria and other countries Â— first on economic migrants but most recently on refugees Â— has created a huge bottleneck in Greece.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council yesterday warned migrants: “do not come to Europe…do not risk your lives, your money”.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki called on Greece to have in mind the interest of the thousands of asylum seekers that are staying in an improvised camp on the Gevgelija – Idomeni border crossing, and move them away from the border.
The promises reportedly came after a meeting among Tusk, Erdogan, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, where the Turkish head of state reportedly threatened to flood the continent with refugees.
“We don’t want to allow them”, added Toskas.
In its report, the Commission estimated the direct cost of fully imposing border controls inside the Schengen zone at 5 to 18 billion euros a year, with additional administrative and second-wave costs on top of that.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called Thursday for sanctions on European Union states that refuse to take in their share of the incoming refugees, and demanded that the practically dormant procedure for relocating refugees stranded in Greece to other members of the bloc should be drastically accelerated. “Restoring borders between two Schengen countries will destroy the common market”, he said.
Greece said looking after the asylum seekers required around 8,200 officials, including police, firemen, medical staff, field workers and translators.