Greek police at the nation’s border with Turkey fired tear gas Sunday on migrants who attempted to cross the border after Turkey relaxed restrictions on their movement.
Witnesses told Reuters police deployed tear gas against hundreds of migrants, many of whom were throwing stones, at the border crossing by the northeastern Greek town of Kastanies, according to the news service.
Turkey announced late last week that it would no longer restrict asylum seekers passing through Turkey from traveling to Europe, which the nation previously agreed to under a 2016 agreement with the European Union, after 33 Turkish soldiers in northwestern Syria were killed in an airstrike.
Ankara has also threatened to relax restrictions if the EU was not speedier in deliver of promised funds to deal with the influx of refugees, according to Reuters. EU officials have called for emergency meetings of migration ministers, while Frontex, the EU’s border enforcement agency, said negotiations with Greece to help add to its border defense are ongoing.
Greece was the primary point of entry for asylum seekers into Europe during the 2015-2016 migrant crisis and tens of thousands remain in squalid conditions in crowded camps on the Aegean islands, according to Reuters.
Greek officials have accused Ankara of aiding and abetting the migrants, with deputy defense minister Alkiviadis Stefanis telling Skai TV “Yesterday there were 9,600 attempts to violate our borders, and all were dealt with successfully … not only are they not stopping them, but they are helping them.”