ANKARA – With Turkey using a dried portion of the Evros River to claim more land on the border with Greece, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Margaritis Schinas, a European Commissioner, is acting like a mouthpiece Greece’s government.
Schinas is a member of Greece’s ruling New Democracy and has the portfolio of Promoting the European Way of Life that includes oversight of refugee and migrant issues and has said Turkey was trying to exploit them for political purposes.
Aksoy told Euronews that Schinas' statements, “are more like the political discourse of members of the Greek government than an EU official.”
“The EU Commission, which should be the protector of the founding agreements of the European Union, has not started a serious examination about the violations and repulsions at EU borders,” the Turkish spokesman added.
He repeated Turkey’s as yet unfounded claim that a Pakistani migrant was killed by gunfire from the Greek side of the border near the river earlier this year after Turkey sent 10,000 migrants there and urged them to cross.
They were kept out when Greece closed its side of the border and sent riot police and Army units to repel people trying to get across, with Molotov Cocktails being tossed by migrants from the Turkish side.
Turkey is holding about 5.5 million refugees and migrants, including some 3.3 million from Syria’s civil war and is supposed to contain them under an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Turkey has let human traffickers keep sending more to Greek islands near Turkey’s coast and further violated the deal in sending the migrants to the land border before pulling them back just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.
While that was going on, the newspaper Kathimerini said Greek officials were trying to decide whether to file an official complaint against Turkey for sending Special Forces to the area of Melissokomeio, near the southern part of the Evros River.
It is located at a point that floods every year after the autumn and, on maps of 1923 according to which the borders were drawn, is shown as belonging to Greece.
Turkish forces are blocking preparatory work of the Hellenic Army’s geographical service to expand a border fence, the paper said.
The dispute is not new and has arisen because the riverbed of the Evros has moved and in its place now is a swamp, which dries up in summer and floods in winter, creating an islet there. Turkey has exploited the change in the riverbed’s location to claim an area about 1.6 hectares (3.95 acres.)