ANKARA – Turkish Minister of the Interior Suleyman Soylu announced that the number of immigrants crossing the border from Turkey to Europe has grown to 47,113 as of Saturday evening after Ankara stopped complying with a key agreement with the EU that prevented migrants and asylum-seekers from arriving in Europe.
The development comes as reports emerged that tens of thousands of migrants are currently making their way toward Turkey’s borders with Europe, following reports that Ankara will no longer prevent them from crossing, Sputnik reported. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is “following closely and with concern” the flow of migrants from Turkey toward Greece and Bulgaria.
The official revealed that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is ready to address the situation.
“Our top priority at this stage is to ensure that Greece and Bulgaria have our full support. We stand ready to provide additional support including through Frontex on the land border,” von der Leyen tweeted on Saturday.
Earlier this week, the Turkish government announced that it had opened its borders with the EU for migrants and would no longer comply with an agreement between Ankara and the EU on detaining them within Turkish borders, as it had allegedly “not received assistance that was promised in the deal”.
Ankara’s move comes amid a Turkish-backed escalation in Syria’s Idlib province, where nearly a million people have been displaced. Erdogan stated his government had begun to allow migrants to travel on to Europe from Turkey, which he said allegedly “can no longer handle new waves of people fleeing war-torn Syria”, according to Al-Jazeera.
“What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors,” Erdogan told the Turkish Parliament on Saturday, in his first comments since 33 Turkish occupying troops were killed alongside dozens of Turkish-backed terrorists in northern Syria on Thursday.
“We will not close those doors … Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises,” he added.
The latest reports indicate more than 100,000 migrants have crossed Turkey’s border with the EU.
“As of 19:40, March 2, the number of refugees who left our country via Edirne was 100,577 people,” the Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu wrote on his Twitter account, TASS reported.
Turkey’s top officials have never raised the issue of EU “noncompliance“ with the 2016 migrant agreement before, although they had full 4 years to do so. It begs the question, why are they doing so now? Another peculiarity is the fact that most migrants are choosing to go through the Greek border, although the longer and less fortified border with Bulgaria is a much easier way to get into the EU.