Greece-Turkey border crisis: Tear gas fired on both sides | News | DW | 04.03.2020
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Greece-Turkey border crisis: Tear gas fired on both sides

Turkey claims that Greek forces have shot dead a migrant trying to cross the border, accusations Greece rejects as "fake news." European Council chief Charles Michel is heading to Ankara for crisis talks.

Greek authorities fired more tear gas to repulse migrants trying to cross its border with Turkey on Wednesday.

Local television channel Skai reported that some 12,500 people were waiting on the Turkish side for a chance to enter into Greece. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million refugees from the 9-year war in neighboring Syria.

Claims and counterclaims

Turkish officials on Wednesday accused Greece of shooting dead a migrant at the border. "Six men were injured after live bullets were used," the Edirne governor's office in northwestern Turkey said, adding that one of the men later died of his injuries.  

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Turkey was propagating "fake news." Migrants were using Turkish military grade tear gas against Greek troops, he told a news conference.

DW's Julia Hahn is at the border crossing in Edirne where she witnessed "dramatic scenes" as hundreds of migrants try to cross into EU territory. "Refugees have told us that guards fired at them with several people injured. It is a very tense situation," she said.

Talks planned 

European Council President Charles Michel is set to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday. The encounter, on which details were scarce, precedes a meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels.

Michel was among EU chiefs who on Tuesday had flown by helicopter over a border segment at Orestiada as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised Greece "all the support it needed."

Carsten Linneman, a German lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, told DW that Germany and the EU needed a "consistent course," and should speak with "one voice."

"We have to clearly state that we cannot take in the people here," he said. "Humanitarian help also means supporting Greece to maintain order at the frontier."

On Thursday, Erdogan is scheduled in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, which he "expects will result in a ceasefire."

The Turkish military provides support to rebels in Syria's Idlib region in their fight against Russia-backed government forces. 

Read more: Frontex to boost EU border mission in Greece

Watch video 01:59

EU to help Greece as migrant crisis deepens

EU in a bind

In Brussels, unnamed EU diplomats quoted by Reuters have already accused Erdogan of "blackmailing" the 514-million-population bloc by opening Turkey's multiple land and maritime border with Greek.

They conceded, however, that he had the EU in a bind because its 27 member states still cannot agree how to deal with refugees and avoid a repeat of the 2015/16 "Balkan route" migration crisis.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the EU was ready to provide more humanitarian aid to refugees in Turkey and Syria.

Read more: Opinion: EU, Erdogan backed into a corner by the Kremlin

Watch video 01:43

Refugees stuck in limbo on Turkish border to Greece

Bulgaria proposes external 'migration centers'

As one solution, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of Bulgaria, which also shares a segment of the EU's external border with Turkey, has proposed migration centers located outside and paid for by the whole of the EU.

Addressing the French parliament on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian insisted Ankara must respect its EU-funded accord to keep migrants on its territory.

"It is unacceptable that Turkey is using the migrant issue to put pressure on Europe," Le Drian told parliament.

Under its 2007 Lisbon Treaty, the EU agreed to "develop a common policy on asylum," including a "uniform status" to be applied to applicants and "common procedures."

The treaty, effective from December 2009, was supposed to increase the "efficiency" of decision-making processes, establish a higher level of European parliamentary scrutiny and democratic accountability.

ipj/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

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