GR US

Greece, Turkey Swap Shots Over Migrant Treatment, Tension Soars

Αssociated Press

FILE- A migrant holds stones as Turkish special police officers patrol by the fence on the Turkish-Greek border in Pazarkule, Turkey, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

As the United States tried to ramp down tension, Greece and Turkey fired accusations at each other over the treatment of refugees and migrants trying to get into Greece to seek asylum as the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is waning.

Turkey, which has violated terms of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union by letting human traffickers keep sending refugees and migrants to give Greek islands holding 38,000 of them, said Greece is violating their rights.

“Those who were condemned by the international community for instrumentalizing human suffering to serve political expediencies have obviously no right to school anyone in human rights,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

That came after Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said that Greece “maintains a bad track record as proven by the reports of international human rights organizations for flagrant violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the asylum seekers, especially the right to life.”

“It is shameful to call Turkey ‘barbaric’ by those who display all kinds of atrocities to the innocent people at the border in the eyes of the world,” he continued, adding that Greece should respect the rights of asylum-seekers and “not torture or mistreat them or push them back over the border.”

Firing back, the Greek Foreign ministry blamed Turkey for “unprecedented cynicism” just as the “first hesitant steps” had just been initiated to try to restore calm between the countries and cool the jets.

Greece said it will go ahead with plans to extend a border fence along the northern border with the Evros River where Turkey earlier this year sent 10,000 migrants and urged them to cross before Greece closed its side and sent riot police and Army units to repel them.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told a radio station the fence extension is needed because Turkey has indicated it will try again to get migrants to cross.   “Such comments… naturally raise concerns in our country,” he said.

After going to the border, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said the fence will be built “in defense of our country’s interests.”