Greek president lashes out at Turkey over refugees

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos lashed out at Turkey on Monday, accusing the nation's authorities of thwarting Europe's efforts to stem the inflow of refugees by helping people smugglers."I harbour the strong fear that the Turkish people smugglers are getting support from the authorities," Pavlopoulos told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung ahead of talks in Berlin with German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"In particular, the port authorities pretend as if they don't realize anything is going on," Pavlopoulos said.

Both Athens and Ankara play a decisive role in Germany's efforts to address its refugee crisis by shoring up Europe's external borders and reducing the number of asylum seekers making the perilous journey to Europe via Greece from Turkey.

Gauck called on Europe to show more solidarity in sharing the burden of the refugee crisis, after Germany took in more than 1 million asylum seekers last year. "Without Europe-wide solutions, we will be unable to deal with the present situation. Therefore, we have to both ensure solidarity and to accept solidarity," said Gauck, who has held the largely ceremonial post of president since 2012.

The EU has also agreed to pay Turkey 3 billion euros (3.3 billion dollars) to assist in accommodating refugees in the country.

However, Greece has said it will only agree to pay its share of the money when Turkey has taken action to reduce the number of refugees.

"Greece will fulfill all its obligations, when Turkey has fulfilled its commitments," Pavlopoulos told the newspaper. "But Turkey has so far not delivered."

Last update: Mon, 18/01/2016 - 15:50


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