About six Turkish cargo ships preparing to smuggle illegal immigrants to Greek islands have been spotted by the Hellenic Navy in the past few days, according to Kathimerini.
This is a dangerous escalation because, as reported by Greek City Times yesterday, Turkey is sending illegal immigrants infected with coronavirus to Greece, likely in the attempt to create clusters in migrant camps.
Although Greece is managing the coronavirus pandemic with a high degree of success, recording only 60 new cases on Saturday, Turkey let the virus spiral out of control and recorded an increase of 3,013 cases yesterday. This is of course according to data provided by the Turkish government, with any journalist questioning the validity of this number being arrested and prosecuted by the country’s authorities.
On March 16, a cargo ship that had departed from Çanakkale in Turkey, ran aground on the island of Kea with 193 migrants.
The Greek coastguard and navy forces will ensure that no such repeat of this incident will occur again. If the Greek coastguard cannot deter the Turkish ships escorting illegal immigrants, the Greek navy will be called upon, according to Kathimerini.
However, even more recently to the March 16 events, Greece's coastguard closely followed a Turkish tanker between the islands of Chios and Samos on Friday that was suspected of transporting illegal immigrants, forcing the vessel to return to Turkey. The Turkish captain refused to respond to the Greek coastguard and lingered for four hours before returning to a Turkish port.
It is expected that in the coming days some of the Turkish ships will attempt to enter the Aegean Sea in order to transport hundreds of migrants to Greek islands. With this information and successfully dealing with the deadly effects of coronavirus, the Greek coastguard and navy are on a high level of alert to deal with the expected crisis that could include harassment from the Turkish coastguard and/or navy.