Turkey slams Greek premier's migration remarks
"The last example of manipulation of public opinion that Greece is attempting to conduct through distortion of facts is the baseless and unfortunate statements of Prime Minister [Kyriakos] Mitsotakis," Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.
Highlighting Turkey's prominent role in migration issue, Aksoy said the current level of crossings to Europe have reduced by 94% thanks to measures taken by Ankara compared to 2015 figures, which stood at 850,000.
"It is not humane for countries located on the migration routes as well as Greece to implement 'zero migrant policy' and disregard the rights of these people. Greece and countries suffering from migration need to focus primarily on addressing the root causes triggering migration in source countries," he said.
The spokesman noted Turkey is hosting more than 4 million migrants, and said: "Our Greek counterparts as well as international community should understand that it is not fair for Turkey to solely shoulder the burden of migration, which is a global problem."
Noting that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis refused to see and acknowledged the situation, the ministry statement said Greece keeps on pushing back the irregular migrants coming at their door.
"Disregarding European values, these people are subjected to inhumane treatment," he added.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said opting for cooperation with Turkey on the matter of migration will bring more effective results than making propaganda against the country.
The statement called on the Greek authorities to "redress the inhumane conditions migrants are going through, which are also recorded by international organizations."
It also called on Greece to prevent death of infant, minor migrants, as well as those who are deprived of required assistance.
Noting that migrants also have rights and freedoms under international law, the statement urged to "put an end to the push-back practice of migrants which is against international law."
It said the authorities should not use weapons against migrants. "Show respect to beliefs of migrants as well as common values of Europe and humanity," Aksoy said.
Meanwhile, Turkey's deputy interior minister İsmail Çataklı also criticized Greece and called on Athens to fulfill its responsibilities.
"Greece should cooperate [with Turkey] in line with neighboring laws and fulfill its responsibilities instead of…making baseless and untrue statements with false and insufficient information regarding irregular migration," Çataklı said, calling on Athens to face this "major problem."
The official's remarks came at a conference on migration in Austria’s capital organized by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) where he informed attendees about Turkey’s efforts related to migration and its recent counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria.