Ankara refutes Greek claims that it was forcing migrants into waters
Turkish authorities have rejected Greece’s claims that a rubber dinghy full of migrants were escorted by two Turkish boats in the Aegean Sea out of Turkey’s territory, by publishing footage debunking the allegations.
The Turkish Coast Guard said in a statement that an irregular migrant boat entered Greek territorial waters off Turkey’s western province of İzmir’s Dikili district at 9 a.m. local time and that Greek coast guard units tried to push the boat back into Turkish territorial waters by creating waves.
“Despite all the calls made to them, the Greek coast guard units pushed the migrants back into Turkish territorial waters instead of rescuing them, and a total of 32 irregular migrants in rubber boats were rescued by Turkish coast guard boats,” the statement said.
“During the maneuvers of the Greek coast guard units to push the irregular migrants back, their violation of territorial waters was prevented by the maneuvers of the Turkish coast guard,” the statement added.
The photograph published by the Greek coast guard on their official website along with the alleged information about the incident was used on April 2 and did not reflect the truth, according to the statement.
Athens accused Ankara on Nov. 9 of acting like a “pirate in the Aegean Sea, claiming that its coast guard escorted and tried to push into Greek waters a boat of migrants who were trying to illegally reach Greece.
“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 had said.
Meanwhile, a Dutch journalist on Nov. 9 accused Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of lying about pushbacks of migrants.
“Why do you lie about pushing back migrants,” Ingeborg Beugel asked Mitsotakis during a news conference with his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, in Athens.
Beugel also highlighted proofs of the illegal pushback of migrants by the Greek side.
Mitsotakis refuted the allegations and said he could not accept “insulting me and the Greek people.”
He claimed that Greece has been saving the lives of thousands of migrants at seas.
“Rather than putting the blame on Greece, you should put the blame on those who have been instrumentalizing migration systematically, pushing people in desperate situation from a safe country, because I need to remind you that people in Turkey are not in danger. You should blame others, not us,” said Mitsotakis.