Greece’s Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff Adm. Evangelos Apostolakis told Turkey it must stop provocations in the Aegean where Turkish warships have gone past Greek islands and fighter jets have frequently violated Greek airspace and engaged Greek pilots in mock dog fights, risking shooting confrontations.
During a meeting held on the sidelines of NATO’s Military Committee in Warsaw, he told Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler that his country should also stop human traffickers from continuing to send refugees and migrants to Greek islands, said Kathimerini.
Turkey has been housing more than a million who went there after fleeing war and strife in the Middle East, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and who hoped to use Greece to get to more prosperous European Union countries before the borders were closed to them.
With other EU countries also reneging on promises to help take some of the overload of more than 64,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, including more than 15,000 on islands, most of those being held in detention centers and camps are seeking asylum but the process has taken two years and longer, setting off frequent violence and growing tension.
Most who came to Greece chose islands close to the Turkish coast but more are using land routes that take them across the border at the perilous Evros River, with many drowning trying to get across.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with his country’s hopes of joining the EU being stalled after more than a decade of talks, has stepped up provocations with Greece as well as with Cyprus, which he refuses to recognize and bars its ships and planes from Turkey.