Greece accuses Turkish coastguard of Aegean 'provocations'

Greece accuses Turkish coastguard of Aegean 'provocations'
Athens accused the Turkish coastguard of 'accompanying flimsy migrant boats'.
2 min read
Turkey has previously accused Greece of illegal migrant pushbacks [Getty]
Greece on Friday accused Turkey of seeking to "provoke an escalation" in the Aegean with "dangerous" manoeuvres and illegal assistance to migrants.

"This morning the Hellenic Coastguard reported multiple incidents of the Turkish Coastguard and Navy accompanying flimsy migrant boats to the border of Europe in an effort to provoke an escalation with Greece," the migration ministry said in a statement.

The Greek coastguard had earlier announced that one of its patrol boats near the island of Lesbos had been "harassed" by a Turkish vessel engaging in "dangerous manoeuvres".

It released a video allegedly showing a Turkish coastguard vessel speeding closely past the Greek vessel and rocking it with waves.

The Greek coastguard added that in two incidents, Turkish patrol boats had allegedly tried to assist migrant dinghies in entering Greek waters.

In one of the alleged incidents, two Turkish patrol boats "tried to push" a migrant dinghy into Greek waters, the Greek coastguard said. 

Athens wants Ankara to better police migration routes and take back hundreds of asylum seekers found ineligible for refugee protection.

It has repeatedly asked Turkey to take back nearly 1,500 migrants whose asylum requests have been rejected.

In a visit to Lesbos this week, EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson also called on Turkey to "urgently" resume migrant returns from Greece.

EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel are set to visit Turkey next week to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over migration and other regional issues. 

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