Austria, Poland to bolster Greek border guard force

Austria and Poland are preparing to send more than 100 police officers to bolster their Greek counterparts, who are working on the country’s border with Turkey to prevent an influx of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Tuesday.

Poland has agreed to send 100 police officers to Greece’s northeastern Evros border region and is prepared to send more if requested by Athens, while 13 police special forces from Austria are set to arrive in Evros in the coming days, it said. 

Turkish authorities said last month they were dropping border controls on their territory, causing an influx of migrants to the country’s northwestern frontier with Greece and Bulgaria.

Ankara has threatened to take measures that could flood Europe with refugees unless Europe does more to help it handle the fallout from the war in Syria. Turkey is currently home to some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and more than a million have fled violence by the Syrian government to seek shelter south by the Turkish border in Idlib province in northwest Syria.

After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to hold talks in Vienna on Tuesday with Austria’s right-wing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in a bid to drum up support among European Union leaders for its border struggle, Kathimerini said.

Mitsotakis and Merkel agreed on Monday that they would wait for the next European Union leaders’ summit on March 26-27 to evaluate Turkey’s behaviour and ascertain whether there is any good will on Ankara’s part for a solution to the migration crisis, Kathimerini reported. 

Merkel is expected to present a new plan at the summit to replace the existing 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal, it said.

Under a refugee deal signed in 2016, Ankara agreed to curb the flow of migrants and refugees into the EU in exchange for 6 billion euros for refugee-related services as well as visa-free travel in the EU for Turkish citizens. Ankara accuses Brussels of not living up to the promises it made in the deal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan travelled to Brussels on Monday to meet with European Union leaders to discuss the mounting migrant crisis. No breakthrough was made in talks between the two sides.