EU sends diplomats to Turkey and Greece

ISTANBUL: The EU dispatched its highest officials to Turkey and Greece on Tuesday amid concern over a fresh migrant crisis and allegations that Ankara was trying to “blackmail” the bloc by opening its borders to thousands of refugees seeking to flee to Europe.
Rights groups accused Turkey of using migrants and refugees as bargaining chips by pushing them towards the Greek border, but also slammed Europe for failing to provide greater assistance.
Thousands have arrived at the frontier since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that it would no longer stop them trying to enter Europe.
After fierce clashes with Greek police at the official crossing over the weekend, migrants said they were being dispersed along the narrow Evros river that separates the two countries. Braced against the winter cold, many wandered the fields along the water’s edge looking for a safe space to cross.
They have faced tear gas and stun grenades from Greek police, while unconfirmed videos appeared to show coastguards beating and shooting near migrants packed on to boats. One Afghan migrant, 21-year-old Sinan Yilmaz, said a friend had managed to reach Greek soil, but was quickly picked up by police.
“They took everything: their money, their shoes and sent them back here. That’s why we don’t consider it, unless the doors open,” he said. — AFP