Turkey slams Greece for ill-treatment of migrants
Refugees and migrants land ashore the Greek island of Lesbos, on March 2, 2020.(AFP Photo)
Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has called on the Greek government to honor international agreements and treat migrants waiting at the Turkish-Greek border to enter Europe humanely.
“Since the start of the Syria crisis, Turkey has managed the migrant flow in an exemplary manner which sets a precedent for the entire world,” Soylu told state-run Anadolu Agency.
The minister reminded that Turkey hosts more than 4 million migrants, some 3.7 million of them from Syria alone.
“Unlike what Greece is doing right now at its border, Turkey never ill-treated or tear-gassed asylum seekers. We welcomed migrants but at the same time effectively fought against illegal migration,” Soylu said.
In 2019 alone, 455,000 irregular migrants were apprehended inside Turkey and 104,000 people were deported, the minister noted, adding that while doing so Turkey always respected all international agreements.
“Following the events at the Greek border, European Union representatives and non-governmental organizations should go there to see the situation for themselves and report the ill-treatment of migrants,” Soylu said.
It is the Greek government’s obligation to provide protection to those who need it and process asylum applications according to the international migration law, the minister added.
“We call on Greek officials to honor the 1951 Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Soylu said.
Meanwhile, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik also slammed Greece, saying its approach is "inhumane."
“It is an inhumane approach that Greece fires teargas shells [at migrants] and killed of them,” Çelik said at a news conference in capital Ankara.
He said the "suffering of four million Syrians in Idlib was a result of the failure to set up a safe-zone in the region, and allies’ inability to fulfill their obligations."
Those who mobilized for the sake of oil-fields in Syria did not realize the grievances of weary displaced civilians, whereas Turkey welcomed them with open arms, he said.
"Turkey is in no position to overcome another influx of refugees," he underlined.
Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.
Thousands of migrants flocked to Pazarkule, a border gate with Greece, after Turkish officials announced on Feb. 28 they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe.
It followed an attack by regime forces on Turkish troops in the Idlib de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, which killed 34 soldiers.
Greek security forces strongly intervened against irregular migrants waiting at the border by firing tear gas and sound bombs and using water cannons, Anadolu Agency reported.
Some migrants were struck and injured by tear gas cartridges.