Greece authorities have accused Turkey’s coast guard of pushing into Greek waters a boat with migrants. Athens has called on the EU to put pressure on Ankara to meet its international obligations.
Greek authorities claim that the Turkish coast guard has tried to push a boat of migrants into Greek waters, slamming the Turkish government for “acting like a pirate state.”
On Tuesday (November 9), the Greek coast guard published a video of two Turkish patrol vessels appearing to escort a rubber dinghy with about a dozen migrants. The one-minute video shows the Turkish boats making a sharp movement in front of the dinghy. According to the Greek coast guard, the ships and the dinghy are then seen turning back and sailing towards the Turkish coast.
The Hellenic Coast Guard said in an online statement that the Turkish vessels accompanied the migrant boat off Lesbos, one of the Greek Aegean Islands near Turkey’s coast, early Tuesday. According to the statement, Greek coast guard vessels at the scene prevented the dinghy’s entry into Greek territories. The Turkish coast guard boats eventually picked up the migrants after initially refusing to do so.
“Once again Turkey has behaved like a ‘pirate state’ in the Aegean Sea, breaching its engagements with the European Union,” Greek Maritime Affairs Minister Giannis Plakiotakis is quoted in the statement. “The European Union must put much more pressure on Turkey to comply with its international obligations.”
Turkey’s disregard towards smugglers
Greece is one of the EU’s top entry points for migrants. Every year thousands of people escaping conflict or poverty in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia try to reach Europe via Turkey. Ankara has agreed to prevent illegal flows of migrants under a deal with the EU in 2016. From January 2021 till November, 3,302 people have arrived in Greece from Turkey, crossing the Aegean Sea.
But Greece has repeatedly accused Turkey of not taking enough action to restrict human trafficking.
In March 2020, tension spiked on the land borders between the two countries when Ankara said Turkey could no longer hold refugees and prompted hundreds of EU-bound migrants to walk towards the Greek border. In response, Greece deployed its armed forces and used tear gas to stop the migrants from crossing the border.
Turkey, in turn, blames Greece for conducting illegal pushbacks, the act of sending back migrants who make it into its territory without giving them a chance to apply for asylum.