ANKARA – On March 5th Turkey deployed a thousand police special forces along its border with Greece, where an extremely tense situation remains after Ankara’s decision to ”forcefully encourage’ attempts by Syrian and other migrants to move to Europe. According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soil, the border is being strengthened by additional security forces to “stop the outflow of migrants into Turkish territory,” CNN Turkey reports.
“164 people were injured. They ( Greek border guards . – Ed .) tried to push 4900 people back to Turkey,” Soilu said, speaking to reporters in the northwestern border province of Edirne.
“We are sending 1,000 officers of the special forces to the border zone to prevent the outflow (of migrants from Greek territory),” the Turkish Interior Minister added.
Athens, backed by the European Union, accuses Ankara of deliberately directing refugee flows to Greece after 36 Turkish soldiers died in a Syrian air force on February 27th in the Syrian province of Idlib. Last week, Turkey said it would no longer stick to the 2016 agreement with the EU to keep migrants on its territory in exchange for Brussels’ financial assistance.
The Greek authorities distributed a video on March 4th from which it follows that Turkish police special forces shoot tear gas canisters at the Greek border guards that are defending against illegal migrants crossing the border at the Castanies checkpoint, as FRN reported yesterday.
The video shows the Turkish special forces behind the shields, lined up in a row and firing tear gas canisters towards Greek authorities. A Greek security official told Reuters that Turkish police tried to push back Greek forces on the other hand to give migrants more chances to cross the border. “The second reason is to provoke us,” the source said.
Turkish president Erdogan has used the migration issue as a bargaining chip in attempts to secure improved access to European markets as well as special considerations in related dealings. At the same time, this same pressure tactic has been used to push upon the EU to view its efforts in Syria more favorably despite the demise of the anti-Syria coalition which Turkey was a part of, which attempted to oust Syrian president al-Assad since 2011.