October 26, 2016

Greece cannot carry migrant burden on its own- PM Tsipras

Migrants arriving on Lesbos. EU officials have told Reuters that Europeans are looking for Turkey to reduce the number of migrant arrivals in Greece to below 1,000 a day

Unilateral actions by European Union member states to deal with the migrant crisis troubling the bloc is hurting solidarity and must stop, EU Council President Donald Tusk and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday.

“Greece will demand that all countries respect the European treaty and that there will be sanctions for those that do not,” Tsipras said after the two met on Thursday ahead of an EU leaders summit next week.

“We ask that unilateral actions stop in Europe.”

EU officials have told Reuters that Europeans, and particularly the German government, are looking for Turkey to reduce the number of migrant arrivals in Greece to below 1,000 a day at most as an initial condition for discussing taking some Syrian refugees directly from Turkey.

Tsipras said Greece would continue to do whatever it can to ensure no migrant or refugee is left helpless but cannot bear the burden by itself.

“We will not allow Greece or any other country to be turned into a warehouse of souls,” Tsipras said. “We are at a crucial moment for the future of Europe.”

“We will make every effort to apply the Schenghen treaty and the Geneva convention. We will not push back people in the sea, risking the lives of children.”

Officials said Tusk would be stressing in Athens and Ankara on Thursday that the goal was to eliminate entirely the transit of migrants from Turkey to Greece and that Europeans believed Turkey should be able to bring the numbers down to the “low triple digits” very soon.

“If there were to be a target figure, it would be zero,” one EU official said, noting that 1,000 people a day would mean an unsustainable 350,000 people a year arriving in Greece.

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