Turkey slams Greece, EU for inhuman treatment toward migrants
Turkey has accused Greece of pushing back migrants through inhuman ways as a state policy and the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant violation of human rights after 19 migrants froze to death after being pushed back by Greek authorities in the past weeks.
“How can such a behavior be explained? Who is going to say ‘Stop’ to this? Where are the defenders of human rights in Europe?” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a press conference with visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Feb. 8 in the Turkish capital.
Some 19 migrants from different countries died from the cold after being forcefully sent back to Turkey by Greek security officials. Turkey has long been criticizing Greece for pushing back irregular migrants by putting their lives at risk in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Turkish coastal guards filmed that Greek navy and other security bodies opened fire and tried to sink the migrant boats in the Aegean. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently said he will show these footages to his interlocutors at every bilateral meeting.
Çavuşoğlu said Greece continued this policy of pushing back the migrants and has already turned it into state policy at the expense of blatantly violating international laws and human rights. “Don’t misunderstand me. I am not making these criticisms because Turkey and Greece have disagreements. We discuss them in different bilateral mechanisms. But I make these criticisms because it is a humanitarian issue,” he said.
Along with Greece, which Turkish authorities believe is responsible for the deaths of the migrants, the EU also should feel responsible because its border security body, Frontex, is ignoring this inhuman treatment, the Turkish foreign minister said, recalling that a probe launched by the European Parliament into Frontex has failed to create a result.
“The EU is also guilty. Why? My colleague [the Finnish foreign minister] knows very well how Turkey would be grilled if it would do only 10 percent of what Greece has been doing [against migrants]. Greece, on the contrary, receives 100 percent support from the EU,” he said.
Turkey protects EU borders, not Greece
EU officials try to justify their support to Greece on the grounds that this country is protecting the EU borders, Çavuşoğlu said, underlining that this is not true as the borders of the EU start from Turkey’s eastern borders. “On the other hand, supporting a country and its inhuman acts against the migrants on the assumption that it protects the EU borders fully contradicts with the EU values,” he said.
Recalling that the international community is lecturing the Taliban on human rights, Çavuşoğlu said, “Where will we place Greece in this picture? It does not only push people back, but it does so after taking their passports and warm clothes. They caused the death of 19 migrants from cold.”
Turkey-EU should renew March 18 deal
The foreign minister recalled with Pekka that Turkey and the EU have been in cooperation since 2016 and Turkey wants the update of this agreement. “We should help these migrants either return to their countries or stay wherever they are. We should also be able to stop any inhuman treatment against them.”
Turkey has positively contributed in last year’s incidents on the Belarus-EU borders when scores of migrants flocked there, the minister stated, recalling that people from certain nationalities were denied to fly to Minsk by Turkish Airlines.