ATHENS — With tension still high over Turkey’s provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, a report emerged that Turkish soldiers fired warning shots in the air along the Evros River border where Greek and European Union Frontex patrols were being made.
The incidents happened on March 5 and March 7 and was witnessed by Greek and German border guards patrolling together, said Kathimerini, in the area where Turkey a year earlier sent 10,000 refugees and migrants, urging them to cross.
They were stymied by Greek riot police and army units but only after Molotov Cocktails were tossed over a border fence at the Greek forces, who responded with tear gas.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sent them, angry that the EU hadn’t paid another 3 billion euros ($3.58 billion) as part of a 6-billion euro ($7.16 billion) deal in which Turkey was supposed to contain 4.4 million refugees and migrants who went there fleeing trouble in their homelands.
The shots fired incident has drawn new worry that another attempt might be made by Turkey to get migrants and refugees across although Greece is extending a border fence to 27 kilometers, or some 16.7 miles.
The river is also daunting as many who tried to cross since the refugee and migrant crisis began in 2015 have drowned trying in the swirling and often chilly waters.
The incidents were reported to the European Commission byFrontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri, whose agency is being investigated after human rights groups said it helped Greece cover up alleged cases of pushing back migrants and refugees, especially at sea as they headed for Greek islands.
have placed Greek authorities on heightened alert to prevent the illegal entry.
Unnamed Hellenic Police (ELAS) sources told Kathimerini the first incident in the area of Tycheros saw Turkish soldiers shining a flashlight at the Greek and In their official reports, the German border guards said the Turkish national anthem was heard through a loudspeaker during the incident, the paper said, while the second incident happened in the same area and that a Turkish soldier fired once into the air when he saw the patrol.
The German officials drafted reports which they sent to Frontex, while reports to the ELAS headquarters and the leadership of the Citizens’ Protection Ministry were drafted by the law enforcement authorities of the Regional Directorate of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
In his letter to Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, EU Migration Commissioner Ylva Johansson and the Director-Geneal for Migration and Home Affairs, Monique Pariat, the Frontex chief said there’s been more incidents.
As a result, he said the border patrol teams were told to wear bulletproof vests and Greek officials said the two incidents occurred at the exact same point while there had been no similar incidents along the border for many months.
“We are coming to the conclusion that this is not a central strategic choice of Turkey but a local initiative of the Turkish army officers who are on the spot,” an ELAS official told Kathimerini.