European Union Council President Donald Tusk has urged illegal economic migrants not to risk their lives to make the perilous trip to Europe “for nothing”.
Tusk said on Thursday he wants to end the illegal sea transit of migrants from Turkey to Greece, after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens.
Tusk is on a trip through Balkan states and Turkey to try build support for cohesion on how to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants – a crisis that threatens to tear the bloc apart – before an EU summit on Monday.
Speaking earlier in Greece, which has been a primary gateway of migrants flooding into Europe for more than a year, Tusk said anyone who was not a refugee should stay away.
“Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money.”
“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,” Tusk said.
Up to 30,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece from progressive border closures further up the “Balkan corridor”, the route taken to get into wealthier central and northern Europe.
Austria and countries along the Balkans migration route have imposed restrictions on their borders, limiting the numbers able to cross.
Macedonian police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of migrants who stormed the border from Greece on Monday.
The European Commission will present a list of necessary steps to lift emergency border controls that are currently in place inside the Schengen zone and restore the proper functioning of the free-travel area, officials said.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a lecture in the Hague on Thursday that Austria had been wrong to close its border with another Schengen country.
Tsipras said Greece would continue to do whatever it could to ensure no migrant or refugee was left helpless.
But he added Greece could not bear the burden by itself.