ATHENS – Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas on Wednesday accused Turkey of disseminating “fake news”, and denied reports that a migrant had fallen dead and others had been injured by Greek fire at the border with Turkey. After describing Turkey as an “official migrant trafficker” during Wednesday’s press briefing, Petsas made it clear that the government has taken all necessary measures to defend and protect the Greek land and sea borders. “We have said everywhere that we will protect the borders of Greece and Europe,” he underlined.
“Starting last Friday morning, just after the negative developments for Turkey in Idlib, Greece has come under sudden and mass pressure from population movements at its eastern land and sea borders. It is an organised and coordinated operation that is encouraged and guided by the government and the authorities of the neighbouring country. The truth of this is certified by the statements of the Turkish President and other officials of the neighbouring country that the borders are open,” he said.
He accused the Turkish side of attempting to fabricate and spread fake news targeting Greece. “Fake news of this kind was produced today, about alleged injuries caused by Greek fire. I categorically deny this,” he said. “And because there is no end to fake news, they are now talking of a dead person. I categorically deny this as well,” Petsas added.
“These actions are in breach of Turkey’s obligations under the joint statement with the European Union. Turkey, instead of policing the rings of migrant and refugee traffickers, has become a trafficker itself,” the spokesperson underlined.
Petsas also noted that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in the presence of the EU’s leadership, “openly denounced Turkey, saying that – in violation of its Agreement with the European Union – instead of blocking illegal entry into Greece, it was instead encouraging thousands of migrants and refugees to come to Greece.”
He cited “incontrovertible proof” that Turkey had become an “official migrant trafficker”, and noted that the issue was “no longer a refugee problem” but “an attempt by Turkey to use desperate people to promote its geopolitical agenda and divert attention away from the gruesome situation in Syria.”
Petsas repeated that the current problem was not a refugee and migrant issue, but an asymmetric threat on Greece’s eastern borders, which are also the borders of Europe.
He repeated that Greece, while “fully committed to international and European law, was at the same time send a clear message: Do not attempt to enter Greece illegally, you will not succeed and you are taking full responsibility for your choices.”
Greece and Europe could not be blackmailed, Petsas underlined: “Our borders are not negotiable, nor is our determination for an effective, European policy on the issue.”
At the same time, he added, “the heads of European institutions have sent a strong message of solidarity, given clear support for the Greek government’s decisions and stressed that the Greek borders are European borders.”
On the coronavirus, Petsas said that the government is treating the problem with seriousness, foresight and responsibility, following expert advice at every step. “So far, eight cases have been detected in our country, more than 270 persons who have been in contact with them have been located, and more than 570 diagnostic tests have been carried out,” he said.
Announcing the programme of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the coming week, Petsas said that the prime minister will on Wednesday meet Demetris Syllouris, President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus.
On Thursday, he will have a meeting with the political leadership of the Ministry of Rural Development.
On Friday, Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet with the head of the European Stability Mechanism, Klaus Regling.
On Monday, he will travel to Berlin to attend the “Greek-German Economic Forum” focusing on energy issues and green energy, while next Tuesday he will visit Vienna, where he will meet with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.