The divisions over the migrant crisis in Europe are widening with some leaders trying to deter more arrivals from coming to the region while others are using the crisis as a way to cajole UK voters into remaining in the EU.
On Thursday, European leader tried a different tack, warning economic migrants not to even attempt to come to Europe. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Union, implored economic migrants – those travelling to a better way of life rather than because their lives are in danger – not to come to the region during a press conference in Athens.
“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, according to AFP.
Tusk had met with Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier in the day to discuss the country’s handling of the migrant crisis.
Greece is struggling with the amount of migrants arriving on its shores, with thousands of people now stranded in temporary camps and unable to travel onwards (and northwards) as neighboring countries in the Balkans have closed their borders.
Greece has also accused Europe of leaving it to deal with the crisis alone at a time when its recession-hit economy is already under strain. Thousands of migrants and refugees arriving on the continent, most of whom coming from the Middle East and Syria.
With over a million migrants arriving in 2015 alone, according to the UN, and thousands arriving since the start of the year, European leaders are divided over how and where to relocate those in most need and it’s proving hard to separate economic migrants from refugees. Eastern European countries are opposing a quota system to resettle migrants with Hungary planning a referendum to let the public choose.
France caused a stir with the UK on Thursday as it used the region’s migrant crisis as a means to pressure the UK ahead of its own referendum on whether to remain a member of the European Union (EU).
Following on from comments made earlier in the day by economy minister Emmanuel Macron, who suggested that France could end UK border controls in Calais, French President Francois Hollande verified that this could happen.
“I don’t want to scare you, I just want to say the truth – there will be consequences (if the UK leaves),” he said.