New Erdogan threats: “I have no idea how Greece would handle it if Turkey opened the doors”

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Turkish Cypriot Parliament, in Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, July 19, 2021. Erdogan is in the Turkish northern breakaway part of Cyprus for a two-day visit.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused the Greek prime minister of telling “lies” after Athens accused Ankara of “instrumentalising migration”.

Ankara and Athens are often at loggerheads over migration, with the NATO allies accusing each other of failing to honour a deal to curb the flow of migrants passing through Turkey to Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday said Greece intercepted boats that came from Turkey, denying claims of pushbacks by Greek authorities.

“So rather to put the blame on Greece you should put it on those who have been instrumentalising migration systematically,” Mitsotakis said.

Erdogan accused Mitsotakis of telling “lies” and “acting dishonestly” during a televised news conference with visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“It is Greece condemning refugees to their deaths in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas,” Erdogan told reporters, adding Turkey had “all the documents” to prove his claims.

“I have no idea how Greece would handle it if Turkey opened the doors” to migrants attempting to reach Europe, as it briefly did during an escalation of the dispute early last year, Erdogan said.

Turkey signed a deal worth six billion euros with the European Union in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants after more than a million people fled to Europe in 2015.

Turkey is home to around 3.6 million refugees from the conflict in Syria, and is often used as a transit country to Europe by migrants from countries including Afghanistan.