After charging that Greece has unlawfully been pushing back migrants and refugees that Turkey unlawfully has been sending, mostly to Greek islands, Turkey now alleges that Greece’s Coast Guard fired shots at inflatable boats holding them.
Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay lashed out after reports said there was video footage showing Greek Coast Guard units pushing and shooting at the boats holding refugees and migrants coming from Turkey.
“Humanity has been disregarded once again in the Aegean! What a shame!” Oktay said on Twitter, also claiming the Greek forces impeded the boats with dangerous maneuvers, hit migrants with sticks and tried to sink the inflatable vessels while firing guns into the air and around the boats.
That was according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry, said Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah that is a mouthpiece for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey has kept up allegations of pushbacks.
There was no mention of Turkey allowing human traffickers to keep sending refugees and migrants in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Under the agreement, Turkey is supposed to contain some 4.4 million of them who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, especially Syria and Afghanistan as well as Pakistan and as far as sub-Saharan Africa.
Greece’s New Democracy government has denied all the claims, including those from human rights groups, activists and reports in major media, including The New York Times.
Oktay said that he told European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas – from New Democracy – about the alleged pushbacks and gun firing incident and that Turkey expected something to be done about it.
Greek officials have said that Turkey’s Coast Guard, which has claimed to save migrants and refugees, is helping them try to reach five Greek islands near the coast of Turkey.
Pushbacks are in violation of international laws and a number of EU media outlets have reported they have occurred in Greek waters, with Germany’s state broadcaster Der Spiegel publishing videos said to show masked Greek officers intercepting and disabling refugee boats in the Aegean Sea.
The refugees and migrants are mostly seeking asylum in Greece after the EU closed its borders to them and some countries built walls to keep them out and reneged on pledges to admit some numbers of them.