ISTANBUL

Turkey on Monday criticized the Austrian chancellor over his remarks to a Greek newspaper about asylum seekers.

In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy denounced Sebastian Kurz’s statement in the daily Kathimerini just after World Refugee Day, which was observed on June 20.

“This country, which closes its borders first and foremost to the asylum seekers and even proposes to build a wall to the border, violates the common values ​​of the EU and humanity, the basic human rights treaties and the 1951 Geneva Convention,” Aksoy said.

On Sunday, Kurz shared the front page of Kathimerini on Twitter and said: “I also reiterated that we must not be blackmailed by #Turkey. We must stop illegal migration at our external borders, like the Greek border. This also our responsibility as Europeans.”

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as FRONTEX, in which all the European Union member countries including Austria takes part, “has to enforce these agreements and EU laws, provide protection for asylum seekers who come to their borders, not to push them back, and not to conduct degrading treatment [against asylum seekers],” Aksoy urged.

“Austria’s attitude towards asylum seekers,” he said, “is no different from that of Greece,” for which the UN Refugee Agency expressed concern over alleged multiple reports of pushbacks by Greek authorities at the country’s sea and land borders, possibly returning migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey.

The statement also cited Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights who said in a statement on Friday: “Protecting the human rights and dignity of refugees is not an option, but a moral and legal obligation that all member states have to respect.”

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