Turkey and Greece say both suffer from migration crisis
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) at a press conference with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras (L) on Nov. 18, 2015. AA PhotoBoth Turkey and Greece are “sufferers” of the Syrian crisis, not the “responsible,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Nov. 18, referring to hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants travelling to Europe from Turkey through the Greek islands.
“As the sufferers, as parties affected by all these problems, we decided to conduct bilateral technical work,” Davutoğlu said, speaking at a press conference by his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras, who is visiting Turkey.
Tsipras, on his first official visit to Turkey, focused on grappling with the huge flow of refugees entering his country from Turkish territory.
The two leaders agreed on more bilateral mechanisms between relevant ministries and forming a working group to tackle the migrant crisis.
The Greek coast guard commander has been in talks with his Turkish counterpart about measures in the Aegean Sea regarding illegal migration, Davutoğlu said, noting more regular dialogue would be established between parties.
Both leaders stressed that the responsibility of the refugee influx to Europe is not on Turkey and Syria, and urged international actors, like the European Union and United Nations Security Council, to take the burden.
“We disagree on efforts to put the entire burden on two countries,” Davutoğlu said.
Tsipras proposes ‘hot spots’ in Turkey
Greece and Turkey must step up cooperation in the fight against smugglers who are transporting hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants to Europe from Turkey through the Greek islands, Greek prime minister said.
“This is not merely a problem of Turkey and Greece. Europe should take responsibility… We need to maintain settlement assurance to migrants,” Tsipras added.
Tsipras suggested a previous proposal made to the EU to establish hot spots in Syria’s neighboring countries, so that migrants would be registered.
“You could call them accommodation centers or identification centers,” he stated.
Tsipras, who arrived in Turkey late Nov. 17, attended an international football friendly between Turkey and Greece with Davutoğlu, but the match was overshadowed by some Turkish fans booing the Greek team during a minute of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks.
He also met with the Istanbul-based Greek Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
The leaders also discussed ongoing reunification talks for Cyprus. Turkey and Greece have a window of opportunity to act on the partition of Cyprus, Davutoğlu said, adding he believed Athens would increase support for Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.
“There is a window of opportunity right now over the Cyprus issue. The negotiations are going on. We have a common approach with Greece to contribute positively to the talks,” Davutoğlu said at a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is visiting Turkey.
“We have decided to encourage the two communities in Cyprus,” Tsipras said for his part.
The Turkish prime minister said they would build ties with Greece based on a positive agenda, and would hold fourth meeting of high level cooperation council in February 2016.