Migration Minister letter to EU: Turkey promotes illegal migrant crossings to Europe

Turkish Coast Guard and Port Authority vessels are escorting inflatable boats with migrants towards European borders, Migration & Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi charged on Monday in a letter to the European Commission.

Addressing it to European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johannson, Mitarachi said that “it is a well-established fact that these migrants departed the Turkish coast, and given that they were under close observation and escort by Turkish vessels, the conclusion is that they were not being persecuted, and their lives were not in danger.”

He was backed by Greek Coast Guard data, he said, showing Turkish support of these failed attempts at illegal crossings.

Turkey’s purpose, through the use of mass media also, is to add pressure to the EU’s external borders and attempt to provoke Greece. He further queried the Commission on whether migrants undertaking such attempts to cross into Europe “through the obvious collaboration, active support and help of Turkish authorities” are protected by the Geneva Convention.

Such actions are targeted against the EU overall, not a single country, he said, and asked the EU to “react in a coordinated way” before these incidents.