Turkey, Greece determined to solve refugee problem together

Istanbul, March 9 (IANS) Turkish and Greek prime ministers said on Tuesday that they are determined to prevent illegal traffickers and migration in the Aegean Sea bordering the two countries.

“Turkey and Greece share the same perspective with regards to solving the Syrian refugee crisis,” Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said during a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras in Turkey’s Izmir city.

Both leaders had previously co-hosted a Turkish-Greek High-Level Cooperation Council meeting focusing on joint efforts to better handle the influx of refugees into Greece and other European countries by sea via Turkey, Xinhua news agency reported.

Greece, already suffering from an ailing economy, is confronted with tens of thousands of refugees along its border with Macedonia, a non-European Union (EU) country which closed its route into Western Europe.

“Turkey and Greece have a common answer to Europe, which believes that Greece and Turkey should deal with the crisis alone,” Davutoglu said.

Both Davutoglu and Tsipras attended a special EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on Monday.

There, Davutoglu asked for $3.3 billion in aid, in return for Turkey’s help in stemming the influx of refugees into Europe and accepting those deemed ineligible for asylum into the continent.

At the summit, Davutoglu also suggested a one-for-one deal, where the EU resettles one Syrian refugee from a camp in Turkey in exchange for a Syrian which Turkey will accept from Greece.

Some 2.7 million Syrians are sheltered in camps in Turkey.

Tsipras, while pledging his country will do its best to help the refugees, had vowed earlier not to allow Greece to become “a warehouse for souls,” requesting from all European countries to share the burden.

Addressing the joint press conference with Davutoglu, Tsipras referred to the thousands of refugees who died in the Aegean Sea on their way towards Europe, adding that both Ankara and Athens are dedicated to solving this humanitarian tragedy and preventing illegal trafficking.

“Many refugees, seeking better life conditions in other countries, have become victims of illegal trafficking,” he said.

“We are here to relay the message that we will solve this issue together with Turkey, and we will not accept dictates from another country concerning what we must do.”

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