German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has warned of a larger influx of refugees than that seen in Europe in 2015 while on an official visit to the Greek islands.
Traveling with incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Seehofer also said the EU has to do more to support Turkey so that refugees do not attempt the often dangerous crossing to Greece.
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"We have to help our European partners even more on patrolling the EU's external borders, we have left them alone for too long," Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, referring not only to Greece but also to Spain and Italy. "If we don't, we will once again see a refugee wave like in 2015 — maybe even greater than four years ago."
Seehofer said Europe has to avoid a crisis for which it is unprepared, as happened in 2015. He clarified that he has "the full support" of Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he has publicly differed on refugee policy in the past.
Seehofer: Turkey needs more help
In a separate interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Seehofer also said the EU had to do more to assist Turkey in dealing with the millions of refugees that have entered the country since the start oft the Syrian war in 2011.
"Turkey is doing a great deal in welcoming refugees," said Seehofer. "It is also in our interests, but it is clear that we cannot manage the future with the resources of the past."
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In 2016, the EU agreed to give Turkey €6 billion in aid for projects devoted to Syrian refugees. However, since then, Ankara has been accused of not sticking to its side of the dealto take back asylum-seekers.
During a two-day trip this week Seehofer traveled to both Turkey and Greece, where he held talks with government representatives hoping to broker a strong deal on refugees and border controls.
es/cmk (AFP, dpa)
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