KASTANIES, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities fired tear gas and stun grenades Wednesday morning to repulse a push by migrants to cross its land border from Turkey, as pressure continued along its frontier after Turkey said its own border with Europe was open to whoever wanted to cross.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia pledged to help Greece to deal with pressure along its border.
Speaking after meeting his counterparts from the other three countries, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the situation was serious and the EU must protect its borders.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country was ready to deploy guards at the Greek-Turkish border, while his Slovak counterpart Peter Pellegrini said the growing number of migrants “poses a security threat not just for Greece.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that there are some 130,000 migrants on the move that the EU has to stop on its borders, and that “Hungary will take an active role in doing so.”
The four countries have been known for their tough stance against migrants and rejected an EU plan to redistribute refugees in member states.
Meanwhile, European Council head Charles Michel was meeting with Erdogan in Ankara Wednesday, while EU Vice President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic were holding talks with Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay.
“We had the opportunity to express our understanding of the difficult situation Turkey is currently facing but also stressed that the current developments at the European borders is not leading to any solution,” he said.
Borell also told reporters that Turkish officials’ response was that Turkey was not encouraging people to move but that “they cannot prevent people from doing so.”
Greek authorities said there were about 15,000 people along the Greek-Turkish land border on Wednesday. They said that between Saturday morning and Wednesday morning, they had blocked 27,832 attempts to cross the border, and had arrested a total of 220 people who managed to cross.
Ankara has come under harsh criticism from some European countries.
Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Elena Becatoros in Athens and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report.