ATHENS – Continuing to point fingers at each other, Greece accused Turkey of letting human traffickers send a rubber dinghy with 13 people toward the island of Lesbos as it then apparently sank at sea, with three people missing.
A search operation was conducted even as Turkey has gone unsanctioned after continuing to let refugees and migrants try to reach Greece in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Turkey is supposed to contain some 4.4 million people who went there after fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, primarily Syria and Afghanistan, and is being rewarded with billions of euros in aid.
Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said Turkey was at fault for letting the dinghy leave the coast there, breaking the agreement with the EU, without explaining why he was speaking up only now as that has happened for five years.
Ten people were rescued in the operation that included the Greek Coast Guard – which Turkey said had been pushing back refugees and migrants – and the EU's border patrol agency FRONTEX, accused by critics of being complicit, helped out.
Speaking in Parliament, Mitarakis said that Turkey did not rescue the migrants when the dinghy was in its territorial waters and that Greece’s Coast Guard had to enter Turkish territorial waters to rescue the 10 passengers.
He said the 2016 deal requires Turkey not to let human traffickers keep operating and accept the return of those who are not given asylum in Greece but that largely hasn't happened either as the EU has continued to look the other way.