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Thousands of people fleeing war, persecution and other imminent threats to their safety are trying to enter Greece from neighbouring Turkey after Ankara announced it would no longer stop their efforts to reach Europe – and it is inflaming long-simmering tensions between the two countries.
Authorities in Greece say they have stopped more than 42,000 attempted entries into the country since the Turkish government unexpectedly announced the opening of its western border in late February.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Europe must “share the burden” of coping with the approximately 3.7 million refugees already in Turkey, most of whom fled the war in neighbouring Syria. He says the border will remain open until the European Union satisfies the terms of a March 2016 deal that pledged about six billion euros of aid to Turkey in exchange for it hosting people fleeing the Middle East and Asia.
Greece’s prime minister says “Greece’s borders are also Europe’s borders”, while the European Commission president says European unity “will prevail”. But as the political squabbling continues thousands of people are stuck at the gateway to Europe and are being denied the right to file Greek asylum applications – including more than 450 people who have recently reached Greek territory and who are now being detained on a navy vessel.
Is the war of words between Turkey and Greece and the EU drowning out the voices of some the world’s most destitute people? Join the conversation on Tuesday.