Thursday, March 3 2016 15:08 EET
Say no to migrants - Donald Tusk
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President of the European Council and former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk has called on migrants to stop trying to enter Europe, stating that external border controls will be stepped up - said Radio Poland.

Tusk made the appeal at a press conference in Athens with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, arguing that EU member states, “in particular Greece,” are facing “an extraordinary humanitarian crisis.”

Tusk said that on the one hand, “we need to massively step up our support to Syrian refugees and the countries neighbouring Syria,” but he signalled that Europe will not be welcoming economic migrants with open arms.

“I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants wherever you are from: do not come to Europe.

“Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing. Greece or any other European country will no longer be a transit country. The Schengen rules will enter into force again.”

About 131,000 migrants and refugees reached Europe in the first two months of 2016, and the EU tabled a EUR 700 million emergency aid plan for Greece and other EU states on Wednesday in a renewed bid to deal with the crisis.

On 4 February, Poland was one of several countries to pledge funds to aid Syrians who had fled to neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, as well as to back healthcare and education in Syria itself.

The plans were laid at the 'Supporting Syria and the Region' conference in London, with Poland earmarking EUR 4.5 million overall in aid.

The current Law and Justice government in Poland objected in January to taking in mandatory quotas of refugees, a stance shared by other countries in the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary), but criticised by several other EU countries.

However, Prime Minister Beata Szydło has said Poland will accept 7,000 refugees over the next two years, in line with the pledge of the previous government, which lost the 25 October general election.

Donald Tusk was prime minister of the erstwhile Civic Platform/Polish People's Party coalition government from November 2007 to September 2015.

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