Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the EU-Turkey migration deal is dead. In an interview with CNN, he said Turkey has “decided to completely violate the agreement because of what happened in Syria.”
This comes after Turkey’s decision to allow migrants to make their way towards the EU, triggering fears of another migration crisis in Europe.
Amid reports of tensions between the Turkish and Greek coast guards, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed the Turkish coastguard to prevent migrants from crossing to Greece on boats.
“Illegal migrant crossings over the Aegean Sea are forbidden due to the risks,” the Turkish coastguard stated with reference to Erdogan’s instructions.
Nevertheless, thousands of migrants are currently stalled at the land border between the two countries.
‘Europe is not going to be blackmailed by Turkey’
What we’re dealing with is not really a migration or refugee problem,” Mitsotakis said in the CNN interview. “It’s a conscious attempt by Turkey to use migrants and refugees as geopolitical pawns to promote its own interest.”
Moreover, Mitsotakis accuses Turkey of spreading false news about the events at the border and points out that those who are crossing are not Syrians, who are fleeing as a result of the violence in Idlib.
He defended Greece’s actions, saying that his country is merely defending its sovereign borders, accusing Turkey of encouraging people to cross to Greece illegally. Mitsotakis added that “Europe is not going to be blackmailed,” a fact Erdogan will have to recognise.
Greece has called the situation a threat to its national security and suspended asylum applications for a month in response.
The push to the Greek border has appeared organised, AP reported, with buses and cars ferrying people from Istanbul, and some refugees at the border saying that Turkish police had told them to go there.
Hashim, a 21-year-old Pakistani migrant who didn’t give a surname said he managed to enter Greece and was sent back to Turkey by Greek soldiers.
“Turk army say ‘Go to the border.’ When we cross Greek border, Greece army take our money, mobile (phones) and say: ‘Go back, go back,’” he told The Associated Press. “If we don’t go back, they will beat us, they will throw our mobiles and money (in) the river. And they remove our clothes. We come here in underwear. It is not human.”
On Thursday, Turkey said it was deploying 1,000 special operations police to prevent Greek border guards from sending back those who managed to cross.