ATHENS – Greek authorities report that the Turkish police used tear gas against Greece police located on the other side of the border, in order to get what are referred to as ‘Syrian refugees’, though already in Turkey for a number of years, into the EU.
Greek law enforcement officials are said to have used tear gas and stun grenades against migrants from Turkey to Greece, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Skirmishes occurred near the border town of Kastanis.
The number of migrants crossing the border of Turkey and Greece on Wednesday amounted to 135.8 thousand people, Anadolu agency reported, citing Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soilu. On Tuesday, 130.5 thousand migrants were reported. According to the Greek authorities, about 15 thousand migrants gathered on the Turkish-Greek border on Wednesday. They claim that they prevented about 28 thousand attempts to cross the border and detained 220 people who entered the territory of Greece.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking on Wednesday in Parliament, called on the EU – and Greece in particular – to act in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and respect the rights of refugees and migrants.
“The Greeks are resorting to extreme measures to prevent the flow of migrants. Vessels with refugees are being flooded, people are being shot at to kill, they are being killed. In Athens, one should not forget that a time may come when they themselves will need compassion and help,” Erdogan was quoted Anadolu agency.
However, Erdogan has a demonstrated record of grossly exaggerating such claims.
Erdogan has used the spectre of refugees to influence policy on Turkey within the EU, including Turkey’s militaristic foreign policy adventurism in Syria and now in Libya. In many ways the weaponization of the ‘refugee’ subject is a new-form of soft-power ‘lawfare’ – a grey area between diplomacy and warfare.
This led to a major crisis in recent years, wherein Turkey worked with Germany to frame the start of the Russian campaign in Syria as the ’cause’ of the crisis. At the same time, refugees heading to Europe had long been in Turkey and were not affected by the Russian campaign.
Meanwhile, tensions between Greece and Turkey are very high. The use of irritants by Turkish law enforcement on their Greek counterparts will no doubt give rise to an official complaint.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry issued a stern rebuke on Monday against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accusing him of spreading ‘fake news’ in his claims that Greek security forces had killed migrants on its borders.
In its online statement, the Ministry accused Turkey of using people as a “battering ram” and stressed that it was in no position to lecture anyone on international law and human rights.
“When a country uses people as a battering ram, fabricates fake news to mislead them, and systematically violates the sovereignty and sovereign rights of neighbouring countries, it is in no position to point fingers at anyone.”
“And of course it is in no position to lecture anyone on International Law and human rights. After all, Turkey has been failing these particular courses for years,” the tweets, posted on the ministry’s official account, said.
Turkish media also accused Greece’s Coast Guard of illegally ‘pushing back’ a boat with immigrants, which resulted in the drowning of an infant. However, it has been revealed that the boat was blocked in international waters away from Greece’s sea border, and by international law and European law was ordered to go back as it was trying to enter illegally.
The news that an infant drowned was true, however how it occurred was reported wrong by Turkish authorities. The truth is that this incident took place hours after the previous one and the boat was sank by the illegal migrants themselves in order to request a forced S&R (search and rescue) by Greece. According to sources, this is what they were instructed to do by the Turkish coast guard and smugglers.
Greek police beating children and women, is also a Turkish media lie.