Tensions between Greece and Turkey are escalating amid reports of unauthorized migration between the two countries.
According to Associated press, from Thursday evening to Friday morning, the Greek coast guard reported six incidents in which the Turkish authorities escorted small boats full of migrants trying to enter Greek territory.
In addition, the Greek Coast Guard reported an incident in which one of its boats was harassed by Turkish authorities.
“There is no doubt that these migrants left Turkish coasts and, given that they were supported by Turkey, they were not in danger”, said Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi.
Mitarachi then called on Turkey to “renounce and end this unwarranted provocation; return these migrants safely to Turkey; and respect the 2016 EU-Turkey Joint Declaration on Migration.”
Newsweek contacted the Turkish Migration Management Office for comment, but did not receive a response in time for the publication.
For more information on The Associated Press, see below.
Greece reports a series of contacts with the Turkish coast guard in the narrow body of water between the eastern Greek island of Lesvos and the Turkish coast, at a time of generally difficult relations between the two neighbors and the allies of the ‘NATO.
It all happened northeast of Lesvos, an island on the main smuggling route between Turkey and Greece.
None of the migrant dinghies, which carried around 300 people in total, made it into Greek territorial waters, and all of the passengers were eventually taken care of by the Turkish coast guard, the Greek coast guard said. .
There was no immediate reaction from the Turkish authorities.
Turkey and Greece have long traded accusations of unauthorized migration. The Turkish Coast Guard, along with numerous refugee rights organizations and aid groups, accused the Greek Coast Guard of carrying out push-backs – illegal and summary deportation – by pushing migrants back to Turkey without their help. allow asylum seekers in Greece.
Greece categorically denies that it is carrying out refoulements, accusing Turkey not only of failing to crack down on migrant smugglers operating from its shores, but of actively encouraging migrants seeking to enter Greece illegally.
The Greek Coast Guard provided details of three of the incidents. In the first, a Turkish patrol boat entered Greek territorial waters and harassed a Greek Coast Guard boat while performing dangerous maneuvers. He provided video showing a clearly identified Turkish Coast Guard vessel speeding at the Greek craft at high speed from behind, passing very close to the Greek boat and letting it tip over in its wake.
The Greek Coast Guard said the second incident involved a Turkish Coast Guard vessel escorting a dinghy with migrants to Greek territorial waters that did not respond to “repeated communication efforts” by a Greek patrol vessel. The migrant dinghy did not enter Greek waters and the passengers were eventually picked up by a second Turkish Coast Guard vessel after the first left, the statement said.
In the third incident, the Greek Coast Guard said two Turkish ships approached a migrant dinghy still inside Turkish territorial waters and attempted to push it into Greek waters without success.
The Greek Coast Guard said they were “successfully monitoring the maritime borders of the country and the European Union under particularly unfavorable conditions created by the continued Turkish provocation.”
Located on the southeastern outskirts of the EU and with islands close to the Turkish coast, Greece has found itself at the forefront of migration to Europe. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have entered Europe via the Greek Islands from Turkey.