03/03/2020, 10.02
TURKEY - SYRIA - EU
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Erdogan pushes 'millions' of migrants towards Europe. Athens uses force to stop them

The Greek army uses tear gas and water cannons to stop the exodus. Turkish official accuses Greece of killing a man; Athens rejects the accusations. The agreement signed with the EU in 2016 no longer applies to the "sultan".

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thousands of migrants continue to mass on teh Greek-Turkish border, with the hope of crossing and entering Europe in spite of the repulsion measures adopted by Athens.

Eyewitnesses report that Greek security forces throw tear gas grenades and water cannons at people who flee. A Turkish official has accused the Greek authorities of killing a man yesterday while he was attemption to climb over protective barriers, while another video - unverified - would show a man lying on the ground, with blood flowing from his neck. In both cases, Athens rejects the allegations of violence.

"Since we opened our borders, the number of those who have gone to Europe has reached hundreds of thousands. Soon this number will become millions” thundered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. Numbers and figures that experts believe are overestimated in relation to the situation on the ground: the UN had spoken over the weekend of 13 thousand refugees massed on the borders.

At the border point of Pazarkule (Kastanies, for the Greeks) there are several hundred migrants stranded in no man's land between the two countries. Some waved white flags in surrender in an attempt to cross the border. According to Athens, 1300 asylum seekers managed to reach the Aegean islands between 1st and 2nd March. A child died yesterday off the island of Lesvos, during the wreck of a boat with about fifty migrants on board.

Turkey has opened its borders in recent days, in an attempt to gather more international support against the government of Damascus, which has launched a massive offensive on Idlib, the last stronghold of the jihadist groups and the opposition supported by Ankara. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants to bring the whole national territory under his control, ending nine years of bloody conflict. Erdogan intends to keep the buffer area across the border where to house the Syrian refugees who have been welcomed in recent years in the name of a Muslim "brotherhood", and today considered unwanted and burdensome guest for the country's coffers.

In these hours Erdogan has returned to threaten Europe, saying that there are "millions" of migrants and refugees who will soon cross borders. He also announced that Turkey will no longer be able to apply - after having collected billions of euros - the agreement signed with Brussels in 2016, which provided for the blocking of migrants against a substantial return in cash. The "sultan" said he wanted to keep "the doors of Europe open" and "now it's up to you to take your share of the burden".

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