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Do not come to Europe, Tusk tells economic migrants ahead of Turkey-EU summit

European Council President Donald Tusk’s address to economic migrants trying to reach Europe, made in Greece on Thursday, attracts extensive media coverage today. Mr Tusk, who met with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras as part of a three-day visit to the western Balkans, said: “Do not come to Europe. Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing.” Mr Tusk also denounced the unilateral measures by EU member states such as those of Austria.

Meanwhile, Mr Tsipras demanded more solidarity with Greece. On behalf of the member states, Mr Tusk sought to deter all migrants other than Syrians and Iraqis from crossing the Mediterranean, El País reports. However, the newspaper’s editorial describes Mr Tusk’s plea as “an effort in vain”, as it will be quite ineffective in the face of the powerful reasons pushing hundreds of thousands of migrants to put their lives and their children’s lives at risk. Also critical of Mr Tusk’s declaration, L’Echo’s Vincent Georis wonders if his “Do not come to Europe” line was meant for his voters or for the refugees.

On the contrary, a commentary in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calls for “clear language,” on the migration issue, and commends Donald Tusk for his warning to economic migrants. Still, Finland’s YLE TV1 Correspondent Antti Kuronen comments from Athens that Mr Tusk did not define who these economic immigrants are. Professor at the University of Liège Marco Martiniello also highlights in La Libre Belgique that it is impossible to clearly distinguish economic migrants from refugees.

Meanwhile, the upcoming 7 March summit between the EU and Turkey seems to be the last chance to present some form of progress on a European solution to the refugee crisis, Jan Hildebrand writes in Handelsblatt. Le Monde further notes that this meeting will be crucial for Greece, Schengen, and EU cohesion. In an interview with Die Welt, Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos notes “positive results” from the action plan with Turkey, as Ankara has taken back 300 illegal immigrants from Greece. “This is a good sign,” but the action plan must be fully implemented, he declares.

In addition, Head of the EC Representation in Greece Panos Carvounis notes in an interview with Star TV that the EU-Turkey Summit on Monday is very important. He declares that Greece may have problems, but the European partners who have to host the refugees have also recorded big delays. Mr Carvounis insists this issue must be resolved and the relocation must take place much faster.

Also commenting on the summit, the Wall Street Journal Europe warns that “temporary measures will only buy time for a lasting solution to take shape.” In an interview in Österreich Austria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sebastian Kurz agrees that cooperation should also be sought with Turkey on the refugee issue. This would not however dispense with the responsibility of securing our own outer borders. According to DR’s EU-correspondent Karin Axelson, Turkey will likely demand the EU to pay the €3bn promised to the country before doing any more to stop the influx of refugees.

Stating that the EC’s plan for a “fair” distribution of migrants is politically dead, Der Standard argues that the extraordinary European Council meeting might result in a package of measures, but that this cannot replace a true European refugee policy. Meanwhile in Poland, Gazeta Wyborcza reports that uncertainty remains over the biggest concession from Europeans: the programme for relocating Syrians directly from Turkey to EU member states.

In an interview with Wirtschaftswoche, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel says he no longer believes in a European solution involving all 28 member states, and considers it vital that some member states show support for a contingent solution, as Turkey will not do its part otherwise. Moreover, the media continue to report about Commissioner Stylianides’s March 2nd announcement of a €700 million fund to address the migration crisis. With this strategy to help Greece financially to keep refugees, Berlin and Brussels are hoping that after a few weeks, migrants from the other side of the Mediterranean will realise that it is not worth risking their lives to end up in a country with 25% unemployment, says Le Monde.

Similarly, Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Kurz underlines in an interview with Salzburger Nachrichten that in future Greece will have to accept a major portion of the refugees at first and that the country will have to be supported by the EU in this regard. On Friday, the Commission will present an action plan to reverse national border controls in the Schengen area. The proposal for a reform of the Dublin Agreement including refugee quotas is expected to be heavily opposed by some EU member states, Berlingske Tidende reports.




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