Erdoğan threatens to let refugees cross to Europe

Greek authorities have registered a substantial increase in the number of refugees arriving in the islands of the Aegean Sea over the last few weeks. Turkey's President Erdoğan has now threatened to let more people flee across the Mediterranean into Europe unless the EU supports his plan to set up a "safe zone" in the north-west of Syria. Can the refugee deal with Ankara still be saved?

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

EU is vulnerable to blackmail

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung explains what is behind Erdoğan's threat to let more refugees into Europe:

“The Turkish president has two problems: the population is no longer as united behind the Syrian war refugees as it was just a few years ago, and the Turkish economy is in a slump. ... Quite apart from the cynicism with which this authoritarian ruler is exploiting hundreds of thousands of people for his own political purposes, this whole thing once again shows that the much-touted EU-Turkey Action Plan is nothing more than a crutch. Three years ago the Europeans made Erdoğan their sluice-keeper to the south but since then they haven't taken any serious interest in what's going on in Syria. ... This is how you make yourself vulnerable to blackmail.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Athens and Ankara need help

At least two things must be done to save the refugee agreement between Turkey and the EU, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains:

“The Greeks must be given administrative and personal support - if need be with gentle pressure - so that they can complete asylum procedures within a few months. The examples of the Netherlands and Switzerland show that this is possible. In addition, Europeans must do more to help Turkey cope with the refugee crisis. It's in the interests of the EU - and also of most of the refugees - that they stay close to their home countries, meaning in Turkey. And of course Europe must bear part of the resulting costs.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Europe leaving Greece in the lurch

Athens should give up any hopes that the EU will show more solidarity, Kathimerini advises:

“The decisions made in Europe's capitals primarily take into account the political costs and the threat posed by the rise of populist and xenophobic forces. ... The decision of the European leadership is clear, regardless of its grandiloquent explanations: The 'problem' is to be solved on the fringes of Europe, in the countries of arrival. The other member states are simply to provide funding and staff. Greece seems to be trapped in this situation without any prospect of escaping it. There is no real solution, only the administrative option of creating new structures and more and more reception and accommodation centres.”