Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, on Saturday, lambasted Greece for continuing with its expansionist actions and its inhumane behaviour towards refugees. Speaking in the southern city of Mersin, the lawmaker said, “For years, the world ignored the fact that Greece has been carrying out inhumane actions against innocent people. But, with the latest Frontex incident, Greece was caught in the act and finally, the EU started to realize what Greece has been doing,” Akar said. His remarks came as a joint investigation by media outlets found out that the Hellenic Republic along with Frontex was involved in pushing back immigrants.
“Since Greece was caught red-handed, it has been creating an artificial agenda against Türkiye to try to distract the world from focusing on its crimes,” he added. His remarks came as Athens pinned the blame for the spiraling migrant crisis on Ankara- a common move by the EU state for years.
The relationship between Greece and Turkey has been alternating between periods of hostile acts and reconciliation ever since Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Turkey is the largest host of refugees in the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants reach Turkey but then cross the Aegean Sea to enter Greece, which is a part of the European Union.
The probe discovers atrocities against migrants
Earlier last week, a joint investigation by several media outlets found out that Frontex, or the European Border and Coast Guard Agency along with the Greek coastguards, forced back at least 957 asylum seekers between March 2020 and September 2021. Pushing back people who enter EU territorial waters is illegal under the bloc’s regulations and member state and international laws. The probing outlets encompassing Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, SRF, Republik, and Le Monde, however, reported a total of 22 incidents involving hundreds of asylum seekers.
It is pertinent to note that both Greece and Frontex have refuted allegations of pushbacks and say their officials comply with human rights legislation. However, the European Parliament has halted a part of the Frontex budget till the probe continues and asked the agency to make improvements.
(With inputs from agencies)