Turkey slams Austria for human rights abuses after ‘blackmail’ criticism

Turkey on Monday slammed Austria for human rights abuses after the Austrian chancellor's remarks on Ankara's asylum seekers policy to pressure Europe.

Sebastian Kurz said in an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini on Sunday that the European Union should not allow Turkey to blackmail it with threats of opening the gates to refugees.

"This country, which has closed off its borders to asylum-seekers since the beginning and even suggested building up a wall at the borders, acts against the EU’s and humanity’s common values, main human rights conventions and 1951 Geneva Convention," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in response to the interview.

EU members are obliged to provide protection for asylum seekers arriving at their borders, to refrain from push-backs and inhumane treatment towards them, Aksoy said.

Thousands of migrants gathered on Turkish-Greek border to attempt to enter Europe in February after Ankara's decision to open its side of the border. The Turkish government said the move was a response to the EU’s failure to hold up its side of the 2016 refugee deal.

Clashes had broken out at the border between Greece’s border officials and migrants, with the former deploying riot police and border guards to turn away people trying to enter their country from the sea or by land.