'Stay out,' was the clear message European Council President Tusk had for economic migrants trying to make their way into the EU. His remarks came during a visit to Greece, where thousand of refugees are stranded.
European Council President Donald Tusk held talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday ahead of a key meeting between EU and Turkish officials on March 7 and had a clear message for economic migrants looking to make their way into the European Union.
"Don't come to Europe. Don't believe smugglers. No European country will be a transit country," he said.
Tusk's stop in Greece is the latest on his tour of countries along the oft-used migrant route through the Balkans to countries in Europe's north.
Tusk also responded to calls to punish Greece for how it has managed the refugee crisis along its borders.
Tusk's tour is aimed atfinding common ground on the migration issue
ahead of the summit in Brussels.
After starting the trip in Austria on Tuesday, Tusk has met with leaders in Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia. After Greece, he'll move on to his final stop in Turkey.
Macedonia, along with other Balkan states including Serbia and EU members Slovenia and Croatia, have imposed a daily limit on the number of migrants allowed to enter their territory.
This has resulted in abacklog of refugees in Greece
, which is leading to a humanitarian crisis, according to theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
"We have to avoid an illusion that instead of the full respect for Schengen rules, there might be another, easy and convenient European solution," Tusk said, while adding that respecting the rules would not solve the problem either.
During his press conference with Tusk, Tsipras said Greece would provide "dignified" living conditions for refugees currently stuck in Greece but called on other European countries to do their part in taking in refugees on a permanent basis.
"Greece will demand... that there be sanctions to those who do not respect" European treaties, Tsipras said, referring in this case to countries who are not implementing the EU's refugee policy.
On Wednesday, the European Union's executive body proposed setting aside 700 million euros ($760 million) to assist Greece and other states in providing shelter and care to refugees and migrants who are arriving in Europe in great numbers.
The "EU will not leave Greece alone," Tusk said on Twitter.
mz/kms (AFP, Reuters)