Turkey has said it can no longer support the mass influx of migrants from Syria and elsewhere.
It says it will no longer keep them from attempting to cross into Greece and Bulgaria as they seek to head into European Union countries.
Paul Heinbecker is the Deputy Chair of the The World Refugee Council, and a former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, and Germany.Listen
As the mass at border crossings with Greece, or attempt to cross the Aegean to Greek islands, the Greek forces are attempting to keep them out.
Tear gas and piano wire use is prevalent, with heavily armed police and military standing at border points, while patrol vessels forcibly turn back rafts and boats attempting to cross the sea.
Heinbecker says Turkey seems to have a legitimate position as he says the EU has not lived up to agreements with Turkey for funding and resettlement to help that country deal with the almost 4 million migrants now there.
Turkey had also wanted to set up a safe zone in Syria where people fleeing the civil war there could go, but Heinbecker says, NATO and the EU seemed not particularly interested.
Turkey is now reported to have sent 1,000 armed police to the border to stop Greece from forcing the migrants back into Turkey. Athens says it has prevented as many as 35,000 from crossing in the past five days and is said to be preparing to deport hundreds of other who have managed to slip across.
The two countries have a long history of belligerence and so tensions are rising.
- Al Jazeera: Mar 5/20: Turkish police bolster Greek border to stop migrants’ return
- BBC: Mar 3/20: EU chief says Greece is Europe’s shield in migrant crisis
- Thomson-Reuters (via CBC) Mar 4/20: Greek and Turkish police fire tear gas as migrants try to cross into Greece
- Associated Press (via CBC) Mar 3.20: Greece PM rips Turkey as thousands of migrants seek entry into Europe