“The European Union should fully implement the March 18 Agreement,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Friday, also emphasizing the importance of the 1951 Geneva Convention and international law regarding the migrant rights amid the refugee influx toward Europe.
“All EU countries, including Greece, should accept their responsibilities stemming from international law and receive asylum applications. With that said, Greece has announced that it has suspended asylum processes. The EU is turning a blind eye to violation of EU and international laws,” the MFA added.
Saying that the bloc even refrains from calling people demanding asylum “refugees” and instead calls them “immigrants,” the Ministry added it is hypocritical that the EU is in contradiction with its own values and doctrines by supporting Greece’s violations.
“It is clear that the EU has failed to grasp the extraordinary burden Turkey faces and the efforts it makes regarding the migration and security issues,” the MFA stated.
Turkey and the EU signed an agreement on March 18, 2016, to stem the influx of refugees to Europe. Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. With the agreement, irregular arrivals decreased by 99%, saving the lives of many of those who would have attempted the treacherous journey by sea.
Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under a 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.
Turkish officials announced last week that they would no longer try to stop migrants from reaching Europe. Since then, thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have flocked to the Turkish province of Edirne along the border with Greece and Bulgaria to make their way into Europe.
The refugee crisis has been the main topic of discussion between Turkey and the EU recently after the former’s decision not to hold back migrants anymore as it already hosts over four millions of them.
The Greek reaction to refugees has been harsh, with several killed and many battered, attacked and teargassed by Greek forces.
Turkey's decision on asylum seekers was made after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed by forces of Syria’s Bashar Assad regime in Idlib, northwestern Syria last week.
The Turkish soldiers were working to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.
Turkey, which already hosts some 3.7 million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world, says it cannot absorb another refugee wave.