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‘Gates will remain open’: Erdoğan says 18,000 migrants crossed European border

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in İstanbul on Saturday that 18,000 migrants had crossed the border, without providing evidence, adding that the number could rise to 25,000-30,000 on Saturday, according to the Kathimerini daily.

“We will not close these [border gates] in the near future, and this will continue. Why? The European Union needs to keep its promises. We don’t have to take care of this many refugees, to feed them,” he said.

He complained the funds transferred to Turkey from the European Union to support refugees were arriving too slowly and that he had asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to send the funds directly to the Turkish government.

Turkey’s borders with Europe were closed to migrants under an accord between Turkey and the European Union that halted the 2015-16 migration crisis when more than a million people crossed into Europe by foot.

In Athens, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that more than 4,000 migrants have been prevented from crossing into Greece from Turkey and that there have been 66 arrests.

“Greece was the target of an organized. mass, illegal attempt to violate its borders and has withstood it,” Petsas told reporters Saturday after an emergency meeting of ministers at the Prime Minister’s office.

On Saturday, small groups managed to get into Greece clandestinely. The vast majority were from Afghanistan, and most were men, although there were also some families with young children. They took shelter during the night in abandoned buildings or small chapels in the Greek countryside before starting to walk towards the West.

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