Refugee crisis not a bilateral issue, Kotzias says

5 March 2016
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The refugee crisis must not be treated as a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey but as a global problem, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said after meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Athens Friday.

The two officials, who met ahead of Monday’s crucial European Union summit with Turkey over the refugee crisis, stressed the importance of cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

“We are in favor of developing Greek-Turkish ties on the basis of neighborly relations and international law,” Kotzias said, referring to a recent souring of relations over the crisis.

Cavusoglu stressed that although Greece and Turkey had their differences, both sides must avoid making incendiary statements.

Greece is the EU’s main entry point of refugees and migrants coming through Turkey on their way to the north of the bloc. A controversial decision by EU member states to close off their borders has led to thousands being stranded in Greece, as migrant flows from Turkey continue unabated.

Greece has said it will demand an equitable sharing of the burden between EU countries at Monday’s summit, which aims to find common ground with Turkey over how to contain the movement of refugees from its shores to Greece.

The Turkish official also refuted criticism that Ankara has raised obstacles to a NATO mission in the Aegean Sea.

“We support, and always will, the NATO forces operating in the Aegean to help the refugee crisis,” Cavusoglu said.

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