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EU's Tusk in key migrant talks with Turkey's Erdogan

Update: March, 04/2016 - 11:06

 

EU President Donald Tusk issued a blunt warning to economic migrants not to come to Europe.— AFP Photo

ISTANBUL — The EU's Donald Tusk was due to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for key talks on the migrant crisis on Friday, after saying the number of people trying to enter the bloc via Turkey remained "far too high."

The Istanbul meeting is the last stage in a regional tour for the EU president, also taking in Greece and Slovenia, ahead of a Turkey-EU summit in Brussels next week where the continuing flow of migrants will top the agenda.

Tusk has pulled no punches on during the trip, earlier issuing a blunt warning to economic migrants not to come to Europe, and chastising European countries that have taken unilateral steps to tackle the crisis.

After talks in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday, Tusk told economic migrants it was pointless to try to reach the European Union, which is struggling maintain its prized Schengen passport-free travel area in the face of the surge of people moving across the bloc's borders.

On a busy day of diplomacy, Tusk then travelled to Ankara, where he said he wanted to reduce the number of people coming into the EU from Turkey.

"I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants wherever you are from: Do not come to Europe," Tusk said.

"Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing." He sought to encourage Turkey to take further action to sharply cut the numbers of people taking to unseaworthy boats to reach Greece - the second country on the frontline of Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.

"It is for Turkey to decide how best to achieve such a reduction," Tusk said after meeting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, floating the idea of a "fast and large scale mechanism" to ship back irregular migrants from Greece.

"It would effectively break the business model of smugglers." — AFP


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