ZAGREB, March 7, 2020 – The European Union supports the agreement on ceasefire in Syria and on the de-escalation of the situation with migrants on the Greek-Turkish border, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković says on his Twitter account after he contacted top EU officials and the Turkish President on the phone on Friday.
After the telephone conversations with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Croatia, the current holder of the EU presidency, tweeted that “we support the agreed ceasefire in Syria and de-escalation of the situation with migrants along the Greek-Turkish border.”
Thousands of migrants and refugees are trying to enter the EU after Turkey’s claim that its border with Europe is open.
The latest developments prompted the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which was convened in Zagreb on Friday, to adopt a statement on the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders.
The statement reads that the Council “acknowledges the increased migratory burden and risks Turkey is facing on its territory and the substantial efforts it has made in hosting 3,7 million migrants and refugees.”
“The Council also strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes and restates that the EU and its member states remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders, in accordance with EU and international law.
“In this context the Council reiterates the EU’s full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states in their efforts to manage the EU’s external borders,” reads the statement.
Acknowledging Turkey’s efforts to stop a migrant wave in 2015, the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU calls on Ankara to honour the 2016 agreement.
Addressing the Council in Zagreb earlier on Friday, PM Plenković said the migrants who had arrived at the Greek border in the past few days should return to Turkey.
We think that’s the most appropriate option. They are not people who came because of the current situation in Idlib but people who have been in Turkey for several years, he added.
“On Idlib, the Council notes that the recent and continuing offensive by the Syrian regime and its backers, including Russia, is creating untold human suffering and has provoked the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the Syrian conflict,” the EU Council says in its statement.
“The Council therefore calls for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict in Syria in order to avert a slide into international military confrontation, and prevent further suffering.
“The Council notes the outcome of the Russia-Turkey meeting yesterday in Moscow and reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its call on all parties to keep in place an immediate and a sustainable ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of civilians on the ground and from the air and to enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance by the international community,” reads the Zagreb statement.
More news about relations between Croatia and Turkey can be found in the Politics section.