Sunday, 5 Apr 2020

Syria crisis: Greece and Bulgaria tighten border security amid refugee influx fears

Meanwhile the deteriorating situation in the country, which saw 33 Turkish soldiers killed in a Syrian government air strike yesterday, has prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to warn the situation is on the verge of getting “entirely out of control”. Refugees in Turkey were reported to be heading on the Bulgarian and Greek borders after a Turkish official yesterday declared the country would not longer prevent them doing so, a response to the escalating war in Syria.

Meanwhile, the deteriorating situation in the country, which saw 33 Turkish soldiers killed in a Syrian government air strike yesterday, has prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to warn the situation is on the verge of getting “entirely out of control”. Refugees in Turkey were heading to the Bulgarian and Greek borders after a Turkish official yesterday declared the country would not longer prevent them doing so, a response to the escalating war in Syria. The announcement followed threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country already hosts more than 3.7 million Syrian refugees, to “open the gates” for millions to flee to Europe unless more international support was provided.

Bulgaria, a European Union member state, has reinforced its 300-km (190 mile) border with Turkey with more police and said it is ready to deploy up to 1,000 soldiers and military equipment to deter illegal migrants.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said after a visit to the Kapitan Andreevo border post: “The situation on the territory of Turkey is worrying.

“But for the moment there are no attempts to cross into our country, apart from isolated cases.”

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov will meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to discuss the escalating crisis.

In a telephone call with Mr Erdogan today, Mr Borissov praised Turkey’s efforts to look after the 3.7 million Syrian refugees based on its territory and said the 2016 deal agreed between Ankara and the EU should be maintained.

In accordance with the agreement, the EU offers billions of euros in aid to Turkey in return for Ankara preventing migrants from trying to reach Europe.

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Mr Borissov later told Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission about his conversation with Mr Erdogan and said Brussels should maintain contact with Ankara over the migrant issue.

The EU is anxious to avoid the collapse of the 2016 deal.

Speaking in New York today, Mr Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire in northwest Syria “before the situation gets entirely out of control.”

Speaking after the air strike which killed the Turkish soldiers, he called the escalation “one of the most alarming moments” of the war.

He added: “In all my contacts with those involved, I have had one simple message: step back from the edge of further escalation.”

Belgian UN ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, called the escalating conflict “very, very concerning”.

He told reporters: “We want to call for restraint, for de-escalation and a ceasefire.”

Mr Erdogan has also talked to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin today to discuss the situation.

Fahrettin Altun, Mr Erdogan’s director of communications, said they had agreed to meet “as soon as possible”.

Two cruise missile-armed Russian frigates have been dispatched to the Syrian coast, Russian navy officials announced.

The Admiral Makarov and the Admiral Grigorovich of the Black Sea Fleet both previously took part in Russia’s offensive in Syria.

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