Giorgos Koumoutsakos, Greece’s alternate minister for migration policy, said Turkey should stop using refugees as a tool of blackmail to secure more financial support from the EU, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Thursday, citing the French AFP news agency.
Koumoutsakos said when Turkey repeats its rhetoric of threatening Europe with opening the gates for migrants, they pile up in border regions.
He added that despite everything, they would like the EU to positively respond to Turkey’s request to receive more financial aid than the €6 billion that was originally foreseen by the Turkey-EU migrant deal of March 2016. Under the deal, Ankara had agreed to stem the flow of migrants into Europe in return for €6 billion in aid.
“However, the fact that Turkey demands this amount via blackmail will not contribute to a political atmosphere among Europeans that is in favor of granting it,” he said.
“Europe will not operate according to threats or blackmail. While Europeans need to understand what Turks are faced with, Ankara needs to understand that this is not the way to deal with Europe.”
He added that since May of this year, the number of migrants reaching Greek shores went up by 240 percent.
The Greek government led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who took office in July, has attracted attention with its stricter approach to migration. The country’s asylum laws were toughened at the beginning of November, and the government stepped up its deportations to Turkey in the framework of the EU-Turkey deal.
Turkey, which hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, recently intensified its rhetoric demanding support for its plans to resettle 1 million refugees in northern Syria as well as threatening to reopen the route for migrants into Europe if it does not receive the international support it expects.