The European Union has approved sending Turkey €485 million for ensuring urgent humanitarian aid to refugees. “The EU will support refugees in Turkey as long as the humanitarian needs persist. This new funding shows our deep concern for the most vulnerable, especially now that the coronavirus has further exacerbated their already dire situation," Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said.
As of March this year, EU countries overall have admitted 26,835 migrants under the 2016 Turkey-EU deal, German daily Die Welt reported on July 8. Germany has taken in the greatest number of migrants among the EU countries, with almost 10,000 people, the report said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara would be forced to respond to the European Union if the bloc adopts additional measures against Turkey. "We see that Turkey will be on the agenda of the Commission meeting and summit because of a number of countries, including France. Adopting decisions against Turkey won't solve problems, but deepen them," he said.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that the practice of self-isolation is still "problematic" in Turkey's east and southeast. Reiterating the government's stance on the need for everyone to declare their own state of emergencies, Soylu noted that Turkey has been taking precautions against the virus at the highest level.
The Greek Coast Guard said March 11 that one of its patrol boats was rammed by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel close to the island of Kos, amid heightened tensions between the two countries. Athens’ Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador in protest. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Greek Ambassador to Ankara Michael-Christos Diamessis, calling on Greece "to end violations of the Turkish waters."
Turkey said on March 10 a 2016 migration deal with the EU needs to be updated in light of the crisis in northern Syria. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that European Union visa liberalization and an update of the country's customs union with the bloc must be implemented to help solve the migrant issue.
Police have detained far-right demonstrators during a protest against a visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Paris. "We wanted to show our support to the Greek people that is threatened by the migrant invasion. We went in front of the Turkish Embassy where we delivered a simple message: Erdoğan is an enemy of Europe. For having peacefully deployed this banner, ten of us were detained," one of the protesters said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged Greece to open its borders to migrants, adding that he would meet European Union officials on March 9 to discuss migration. "We were hoping to get much more support from international community when it comes to refugees. I have a meeting with European Union officials tomorrow in Belgium. We will discuss these issues," Erdoğan said.
Ankara and Athens have engaged in a war of words over the treatment of migrants gathered at the border, with Turkey releasing a video on March 7 of what it said was a Greek soldier firing live ammunition at migrants trying to cross from Turkey. Posting the video on Twitter, Turkey's Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı said: "We are seeing European civilization at our border with Greece."
Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, has pleaded for migrants in Turkey not to go to the Greek border or try to breach it, saying the frontier was closed and that any encouragement to do by Turkish authorities was a "game" that had to stop. “If we want to avoid critical situations, we have to know the truth. Let’s stop this game,” he said.
One person was killed and five others were wounded when Greek police opened fire on migrants on the Turkish border. Speaking about the incident, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said that the scene is a disgrace. "We asked the [Edirne] Governor's Office whether they distributed tents to people sleeping in the cold. They said, 'No.' People are in miserable conditions," he said.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on March 4. Following the meeting, Borrell said he told Erdoğan that the situation at the border with Greece was "unacceptable."
The European Union's chief executive, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed sympathy with Turkey over the conflict in Syria on March 2 but said Ankara deciding to let refugees and migrants through to Europe "cannot be" the answer. "I acknowledge that Turkey is in a difficult situation with regards to the refugees and the migrants. But what we see now cannot be an answer or solution," she told a news conference.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the number of migrants heading towards Europe will soon reach millions, as he commented on Ankara's decision last week to let migrants cross its borders into Europe. "The number of migrants who headed to Europe surpassed 100,000 since we opened our borders. The number will be in millions soon," Erdoğan said.
Turkish security sources told Reuters that a Syrian refugee was shot dead by Greek border police on March 2, as he was trying to cross Turkey's western border -- a claim denied by Athens. Separately, the Greek coast guard said that one child died after being pulled from the seat when a boat capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos.