EU's Tusk to economic migrants: Don't even think of coming

ATHENS, Greece -- The European Union's leader chose the continent's main gateway for immigrants Thursday to bluntly warn economic migrants not to even think of coming to Europe, while promising to work for a solution to the more immediate problem of refugees.

See Full Article

"I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants, wherever you are from: Do not come to Europe," European Council President Donald Tusk said in Athens. "Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing. Greece, or any other European country, will no longer be a transit country."

While people seeking a better life are among the migrants building up in Greece, the majority of arrivals are refugees from war and persecution. They aim to leave financially wrecked Greece to seek asylum in a country that can offer them more, such as Germany or Sweden.

But a series of restrictions imposed by Austria and other countries -- first on economic migrants but most recently on refugees -- has created a huge bottleneck in Greece. While nearly 2,000 people arrive on Greek islands every day, Greece's northern neighbour Macedonia only allows a few hundred through, on a good day, and only Syrian and Iraqi nationals.

Tusk, who is touring countries worst affected by the mass movement of people through Europe, said the situation along the Western Balkan migration route is "really dramatic, and so we must act with determination to improve it."

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called Thursday for sanctions on EU states that refuse to take in their share of the incoming refugees, and demanded that the practically dormant procedure for relocating refugees stranded in Greece to other members of the bloc should be drastically accelerated.

After his meeting with Tusk, Tsipras promised "dignified" living conditions for the more than 25,000 people -- mostly bona fide refugees -- trapped in Greece. But he insisted that the solution can only be temporary, and Greece will accept no more than its fair share of permanently resident refugees.

At least 10,000 men, women and children have been camped for days in pathetic conditions at the Idomeni border crossing with Macedonia. Protests have been frequent, and this week Macedonian police used tear gas and stun grenades to repel hundreds of Syrians and Iraqis who had torn down a border gate.

On Thursday, a group of frustrated migrants blocked a freight rail line at Idomeni in protest at Macedonia's refusal to let them in.

Macedonian authorities have said they will only let in as many people as the next country on the route, Serbia, takes. Greek police said that in the 24 hours to 6 a.m. Thursday, 500 people were allowed to cross.

Some of those, however, were then turned back by Macedonian authorities who said their papers were not in order. One man fainted after he was told to go back.

The migrants said Macedonia did not accept computer-generated stamps issued by the Greek police, and therefore they could not prove their identity documents are genuine.

Adnan Abdallah from Syria had waited to cross from Greece to Macedonia for three days, but when he finally was let through, he was turned back because the stamp on his refugee document is computer-generated.

"They say here (in Greece) everything is OK, but on the other side this is not acceptable," a frustrated Abdallah told The Associated Press.

Macedonian authorities, who had been letting in small groups of migrants Thursday morning, closed the border again after the railway protest.

In Athens, Tusk indicated that without full respect of controls on the external borders of Europe's passport-free Schengen area, Europe has no chance of resolving the crisis.

Tusk spoke after talks with Tsipras. Later Thursday, he will travel to Turkey, from where most migrants enter Europe on dangerous smugglers' boats. The EU is struggling to implement an agreement with Turkey that could reduce the flow.

"We must do everything we can for (the joint action plan) to succeed," he said. "This ultimately means that the high numbers we are still witnessing have to go down, and quickly so."

------

Becatoros reported from Idomeni, northern Greece.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trump slams media reports of Kushner's Russia contacts as 'fabricated lies'

    World News CBC News
    Congressional Democrats on Sunday demanded to hear directly from top White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations of proposed secret back-channel communications with Russia, saying the security clearance of President Donald Trump's son-in-law may need to be revoked. Source
  • 'Just a waiting game': Bear in a tree wins standoff with Winnipeg police

    Canada News CTV News
    Winnipeg police and conservation officers spent several hours this weekend trying to convince a bear to climb down from a tree. The standoff started Saturday around noon when conservation officers attempted to reach the stranded animal with a bucket truck and hit it with a tranquilizer. Source
  • Toronto boy's death in bicycle fall prompts call for more safty measures

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The death of a five-year-old riding his bike next to a high-traffic road has renewed a debate in Canada's largest city about measures to protect cyclists, prompting some experts and Toronto's mayor to call for further action. Source
  • Toronto boy's death in bicycle fall prompts call for more safety measures

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The death of a five-year-old riding his bike next to a high-traffic road has renewed a debate in Canada's largest city about measures to protect cyclists, prompting some experts and Toronto's mayor to call for further action. Source
  • Follow the money: Trump-Russia probe seeking financial criminality

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Russia-related probes haunting Donald Trump's presidency are being pushed into a dark new realm: the president's political tormentors are now asking questions about the underworld, organized crime, and money-laundering. This recent development been overshadowed by other daily headlines like the latest news about Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner allegedly seeking a secret communication channel with the Russian government. Source
  • Manchester bee tattoos sweep the city in wake of attack

    World News CTV News
    Tattoo parlours in Manchester have been swarming with customers seeking bee tattoos, as Brits get themselves inked to show solidary and raise money for the victims of last week's terror attack. Several tattoo parlours held fundraising drives throughout the week, with all proceeds from bee-shaped tattoos going to the victims of the May 22 bombing at Manchester Arena, which occurred at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Source
  • Terrifying crash knocks Scott Dixon out of Indy 500

    World News CBC News
    Pole sitter Scott Dixon was knocked out of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday by a terrifying crash that saw his car fly over the car of Jay Howard and land atop the inside safety fence, where it split in two amid sparks and flames. Source
  • Liberals go on attack after Scheer's win of Tory leadership

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Even before Conservatives began counting the ballots, the ruling Liberals set out to frame the new Opposition leader as a far-right extremist. Only trouble was, the relentless barrage of email missives from Liberal headquarters in the days and hours leading up to Saturday’s vote were aimed largely at Maxime Bernier, the front-runner and presumed winner of the marathon Conservative leadership race. Source
  • Most Airbnb hosts not registered in Quebec, 1 year after law took effect

    Canada News CBC News
    The majority of Quebecers who list their properties on Airbnb and other home rental websites are not registering with the province, just over a year since it implemented a law regulating them, new data suggests. Tourisme Québec says it issued 967 permits for rental hosts out of 2,244 applications in the year since the law took effect on April 15, 2016. Source
  • Greatly expanded passenger laptop ban being considered in U.S.

    World News CBC News
    Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday he's considering banning laptops from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the United States. That would dramatically expand a ban announced in March that affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East. Source