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Turkey urges Greece to take refugees as row with EU escalates

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Destroyed: A firefighter at the burnt-out school classroom on Lesbos that was attacked by far-right hooligans. Poto: Reuters/Costas Baltas

Destroyed: A firefighter at the burnt-out school classroom on Lesbos that was attacked by far-right hooligans. Poto: Reuters/Costas Baltas

REUTERS

Destroyed: A firefighter at the burnt-out school classroom on Lesbos that was attacked by far-right hooligans. Poto: Reuters/Costas Baltas

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Greece to "open the gates" to migrants ahead of a summit with EU leaders to discuss his demands for more help in coping with refugees.

His comments came as thousands of Germans protested against their government's decision not to take migrants from Greek refugee camps, and a migrant centre on the island of Lesbos was set on fire in a suspected far-right attack.

Speaking before the EU summit in Brussels today, Mr Erdogan said he hoped the talks would produce "different outcomes" on the migrant crisis but warned that he expected "much more support".

"Hey Greece! I appeal to you... open the gates as well and be free of this burden," Mr Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul yesterday. "Let them go to other European countries.

"We have fulfilled the obligations of the agreement we have made with the EU. However, the EU did not fulfil its commitments except for minimal contributions... I hope we will get different results this time," Mr Erdogan said.

Turkey said in February it would no longer prevent refugees from entering the EU under a 2016 deal because Europe had failed to live up to its side of the bargain.

The move was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Europe to support Turkey's military operations in Syria, where it has been fighting Syrian government and Russian forces trying to crush the last significant rebel-controlled pocket. Turkey hosts 3.6 million refugees from Syria, where the civil war has raged since 2011.

Under the 2016 deal, the EU was to provide €6bn to help Turkey finance housing, schools and medical centres for the refugees.

Turkey says the EU has failed to honour promises including visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and an enhanced customs union. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent