Turkey uses refugees as leverage against EU, Greek leader says

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday said Turkey had been using Syrian refugees as a tool to pressure the European Union, German daily Handelsblatt reported.

“It is obvious what is happening here: Turkey is trying to use migration as a lever to pressure Europe and achieve concessions,” Mitsotakis said in an interview with Handelsblatt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened to open the gates for migrants to Europe after various disputes, including a row over the EU's financial support for refugees residing in Turkey as well as the bloc's objections against Turkey’s offensive in northeast Syria last month.

The number of refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey has seen a sharp increase in recent months. According to an EU report, the number of migrants reaching Europe from Turkish soil in the first 9 months of 2019 reached 46,546, with a 23 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

“It cannot go on like this,” Mitsotakis said. “I frankly told President Erdogan that he cannot abuse migrants and refugees as instruments if he wants to have good neighborly relations with Greece.”