Austrian chancellor says EU must not allow Turkey to blackmail bloc with migrants

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Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz gives a press statement after the visit of Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (unseen) in Vienna, Austria, on July 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / APA / GEORG HOCHMUTH / Austria OUT

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said the European Union must not allow Turkey to blackmail the bloc by pushing migrants to the Greek border, the Kathimerini daily reported.

“We cannot allow Turkey to use migrants to blackmail the EU as it has repeatedly tried to do,” Kurz told the daily in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“This is precisely the reason we sent aid to Evros last March: to help Greece defend its borders, which are also the European Union’s borders, and to send a clear message to Turkey,” he added.

Kurz, 33, is the youngest head of government in the world and is in his second administration, having also been chancellor from December 2017 to May 2019.

Earlier this year, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey opened its borders with Greece allowing migrants to leave the country in a reaction against the lack of European interest in its cross-border military action in northern Syria.

Ankara had been planning to resettle Syrian migrants living in Turkey to the northern Syrian territory following the offensive.

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