President of the European Council Donald Tusk warned economic migrants to stop coming to Europe, just a week ahead of the European Union summit in Brussels, which will focus on the region's refugee crisis.
"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 Thursday in Athens, after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
As per international law, members of Geneva Conventions cannot reject refugees fleeing troubled countries. However, economic migrants do not enjoy such protection and Tusk has been pushing EU countries on the so-called “Western Balkans route” to turn away non-refugees from their journey to Germany.
"Greece or any other European country will no longer be a transit country. The Schengen rules will enter into force again. Excluding Greece from Schengen is neither an end nor a means in this crisis. Greece is part of Schengen, of the euro area and of the European Union and will remain so," Tusk reportedly said.
Tusk arrived in Athens as part of a regional tour on the refugee crisis. After starting his trip in Austria Tuesday, Tusk met with leaders in Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia. He is set to meet Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu Thursday after his Greece trip. On Friday, Tusk will travel to Istanbul for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Macedonia, along with other Balkan states of Serbia and other EU members such as Slovenia and Croatia, have enforced daily limit on the number of asylum-seekers allowed in their countries. This has caused a buildup of refugees in Greece leading to a humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.