Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi on Friday accused Turkey of trying to provoke his country by attempting to push boats carrying migrants into Greek waters, a claim that was denied by Turkish Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı the same day, Reuters reported.
“This morning the Hellenic Coastguard reported multiple incidents of the Turkish Coastguard and Navy accompanying flimsy migrant boats to the border of Europe in an effort to provoke an escalation with Greece,” Mitarachi tweeted on April 2.
Mitarachi claimed that migrants departing Turkish shores were supported by Turkey, calling on Ankara to “stand down and stop this unwarranted provocation” and “live up” to the 2016 EU-Turkey joint statement on migration.
This morning the Hellenic Coastguard reported multiple incidents of the Turkish Coastguard and Navy accompanying flimsy migrant boats to the border of Europe in an effort to provoke an escalation with Greece. pic.twitter.com/lDq3VN6U3T
— Νότης Μηταράκης – Notis Mitarachi (@nmitarakis) April 2, 2021
Çataklı responded to Mitarachi on Twitter, saying he was distorting the events and telling lies.
The deputy minister accused Greece of pushing back 231 migrants in seven incidents that took place on Friday, adding that Turkey had rescued them. “It’s a crime against humanity to slander the Turkish Coast Guard saving people you left to die,” he said.
1- While 2347 people crossed to Greek islands daily in 2015, this number decreased to 79 in 2017 following the 18 March Statement.@nmitarakis, does it abide by the human conscience to distort events and tell lies over the people you pushed to death?pic.twitter.com/220x500zzB https://t.co/RBu4PUtpNM
— İsmail ÇATAKLI (@ismailcatakli) April 2, 2021
A rise in the number of people crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to seek asylum in the European Union at Greece’s borders has increased tensions between the two neighboring countries.
According to the report citing the Greek coastguard, a boat carrying migrants tried to enter Greek territorial waters on Friday accompanied by a Turkish coastguard vessel. In another, two Turkish vessels tried to push a dingy with migrants into Greek waters.
In a third incident off the island of Lesbos, a Turkish coastguard vessel entered Greek territorial waters and harassed a Greek patrol boat, Reuters said.
On March 18, 2016 the European Council and Turkey reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration via Turkey to Europe. According to the EU-Turkey statement, all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey in the Greek islands and whose applications for asylum had been declared inadmissible should be returned to Turkey. The EU pledged €3 billion in 2016-2017 and another €3 billion in 2018-2019 to Turkey as its part of the deal.