EU border crisis is 'Erdogan's violence', says Manfred Weber

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By Elena Cavallone, Joanna Gill
EU border crisis is 'Erdogan's violence', says Manfred Weber
Copyright  Giannis Papanikos/AP

Migrants waving a white flag at Greek police patrolling the border, dinghies floating towards Greek islands. The images are all across the media and bring back memories of 2015. 

They show the conflict facing Europe, over whether to protect borders or respect human rights.

Since Turkey decided to open the frontier with Greece, thousands of migrants have tried to reach the EU. Greece responded immediately, sometimes with force.

The leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber (from the same political family as the Greek prime minister), places the blame with the Turkish leader.

"We have to state clearly that the violence being perpetrated at the border is Erdogan's violence. He is responsible for it. The Greek PM has repeatedly said publicly over the past few days that the border is closed. Full stop. The Turkish government has raised expectations among people that are not realistic. We hope that Erdogan will step back from this escalation."

The Greek government said it would suspend asylum applications for one month. EU leaders visiting the country signalled their support for the Greece. However, the UN says Athens has no right to stop asylum seekers. Human Rights Watch (HRW) wants the EU to live up to humanitarian principles.

"Asylum seekers and migrants have been used as pawns by the Turkish government to put pressure on the EU and having put them in a much more vulnerable situation then it used to be even before this crisis started," explains Philippe Dam of HRW. "What we need is to set up again a new process where newly arriving people who have been applying for asylum in Greece in the past years can also benefit from a mechanism where they can be dispatched to other EU countries".

What is a question of survival for those hoping to reach Europe has become a politically toxic issue for those within its borders.