Erdoğan is using migrants as a weapon – Austrian chancellor

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of using migrants as a weapon against Europe after Turkey granted thousands of migrants free passage to its border with Greece, prompting tense confrontations with Greek security forces.

“This rush is not an accident, it’s organised,” Bloomberg quoted Kurz as saying. “Those people are used by Erdoğan as a playball, as a weapon, to apply pressure on the European Union.”

Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened to “open the gates” and allow the millions of refugees hosted by Turkey, including an estimated 3.7 million from Syria, to travel to Europe. The Turkish president says the European Union had failed to live up to its end of a migration deal it signed with Turkey in 2016 and left Turkey to bear the costs of millions of migrants from the Syrian conflict alone.

Turkey made good on its threat after Syrian government forces killed dozens of Turkish soldiers in northwest Syria’s Idlib province last week, allowing migrants to try to enter Europe as fears rose that the Syrian government offensive could spark a new wave of refugees trying to enter Turkey.

But Kurz said the migrants on the border with Greece were not from Idlib and accused Turkey of manufacturing the chaotic scenes at border checkpoints, where clashes with Greek border police broke out this week after thousands of migrants entered the buffer zone.

He accused Erdoğan of “consciously organising” the crisis by informing migrants the border was open and transporting them there in a “deliberate attempt to organise this rush on Greece.”