Αssociated Press reports from Athens that Greece is reporting a series of incidents with Turkey’s coast guard in the narrow stretch of water between the eastern Greek island of Lesbos and the Turkish coast, at a time of generally testy relations between the two neighbors and NATO allies.
The Greek coast guard said three incidents occurred Friday morning northeast of Lesbos, an island on the main migrant smuggling route from Turkey to Greece. It said two involved Turkish vessels escorting or pushing dinghies carrying migrants toward Greek territorial waters.
There was no immediate reaction from Turkish authorities.
Turkey and Greece have long traded accusations over the migration issue. The Turkish coast guard, as well as numerous refugee rights organizations and aid groups, have accused the Greek coast guard of conducting pushbacks — the illegal summary deportation of migrants, who have reached Greek territory, back to Turkey without allowing them to apply for asylum.
Greece counters that Turkey not only fails to crack down on migrant smugglers operating from its shores but even actively encourages and escorts migrants seeking to enter Greece illegally.
“This morning the Hellenic Coast Guard reported multiple incidents of the Turkish Coast Guard and Navy accompanying flimsy migrant boats to the border of Europe in an effort to provoke an escalation with Greece,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi noted in a statement. “It is beyond doubt that these migrants departed Turkish shores and given the fact they were supported by Turkey, were not at risk.”
Read more at thenationalherald.com
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Original article: AP: Greece accuses Turkey of escorting migrant smuggling boats (videos).