EU tells Turkey’s Erdogan to pull migrants back from Greek border

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought more European support on Monday over the war in Syria and for hosting millions of refugees, but was told he must first stop encouraging migrants to cross into Greece.

Erdogan flew to Brussels for talks with the European Union and NATO after tension rose over the fate of tens of thousands of migrants trying to enter EU-member Greece since Ankara said last month it would no longer try to keep them on Turkish soil.

Turkey hosts about 3.6 million refugees from Syria and has kept a lid on migration to Europe under a deal it agreed with the bloc in 2016 in return for billions of euros in aid. The lid, of course, had its top open and thousand crossed into Greek islands during 2019, while 2020 saw Turkey piling immigrants on the land border with Greece trying to force their way through.

But it has become frustrated with what it regards as too little European support over the war in Syria, where its troops are facing off against Russian-backed government forces and have suffered growing casualties.

“The crisis stemming from Syria, with its security and humanitarian aspects, is threatening our region and even all of Europe,” Erdogan said after arriving for talks with the EU and NATO. “No European country has the luxury to remain indifferent.”

“We expect concrete support from all our allies in the fight that Turkey has been carrying out alone… NATO is in a critical period during which it needs to clearly show support.”