ZAGREB, March 6. /TASS/. The EU condemns Turkey’s use of Syrian refugees as a political tool, the EU Council stated on the outcomes of an emergency session between 27 EU foreign ministers held on Friday in Zagreb.
"While acknowledging 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 EU reiterates its serious concern over the situation at the Greek-Turkish border and strongly rejects Turkey's use of migratory pressure for political purposes," the statement runs. "This situation at the EU external border is not acceptable."
"The EU and its Member States remain determined to effectively protect EU's external borders. Illegal crossings will not be tolerated," the EU top diplomats stressed. "Migrants should not be encouraged to attempt illegal crossings by land or sea. The Council calls on the Turkish government and all actors and organisations on the ground to relay this message and counter the dissemination of false information."
"The Council recalled that it expects Turkey to implement fully the provisions of the 2016 Joint Statement with regard to all Member States. This Statement produces tangible results, including by supporting Turkey's significant efforts in hosting migrants and refugees. Both the EU and Turkey stand to benefit from the continuation of this cooperation and commitment," the document notes.
"The European Commission is mobilising a further €60m in humanitarian assistance for north-west Syria, including in border areas and is committed to increase its assistance to the civilian population in northwest Syria," the EU foreign ministers said.
Turkey and Syrian refugees
In late February, after clashes with the Syrian army that killed 36 Turkish troops, Ankara decided not to stop a flow of refugees from Syria trying to enter the EU. Turkish officials estimated the number of refugees crossing the border at 100,000. The EU is currently holding talks with Turkey to resolve the situation, promising support to Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus that are bearing the brunt of the refugee issue.
The border between Turkey and the EU has been closed for migrants since 2016 within an agreement between Brussels and Ankara on a visa-free regime, which has not been introduced to this day.