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Politics

Greece Says Turkey Pushing Refugees, Migrants to Cross Border

September 11, 2022

ATHENS – Turkey is using refugees and migrants as weapons in letting human traffickers keep sending them to Greek islands and border regions and trying to get them to cross, Greek Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos said.

With Greece facing multiple accusations from human rights groups and activists of pushing back refugees and migrants – which the New Democracy government denied – he said Turkey was engaging in the “brutal and immoral weaponization” of undocumented migrants.

Speaking to Skai TV, Theodorikakos said that in August alone, some 40,000 irregular migrants attempted to cross into Greece at the Evros border, and since the beginning of the year this number has reached 150,000.

“Our message is that no one crosses Evros illegally; we will not allow it,” he stressed. “The border is guarded 24 hours a day in a determined manner by the police and the army, and (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan must take this into account,” he said.

In February, 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Erdogan had 10,000 refugees and migrants sent to the Evros River border – where a wall to keep them out is being extended and urged them to cross.

They were repelled by Greek riot police and army units but not before Molotov Cocktails were tossed over the fence at them in a confrontation that was beaten back, the government responding with efforts to block any from coming.

Theodorikakos said the continuing flow is being driven by Turkey, which would be in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union in which 4.4 million of them being held were supposed to be contained.

They had gone to Turkey fleeing war, strife and economic hardships in their homeland, primarily Syria and Afghanistan but as far as sub-Saharan African, Pakistan and Bangladesh and other regions.

He said the incursions will continue “in order to blackmail Europe and Greece,” but that they will be stymied by the wall, stepped-up patrols – including in the Aegean – and use of drones and electronic surveillance to detect them.

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