The European Commission expects the Greek authorities to follow up on the allegations of the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs over migrants’ mistreatment and the illegal practice of “pushback”, a Commission spokesperson has said.
The tension between Athens and Ankara has heated up recently following a statement by the Turkish foreign affairs ministry calling on Greece to end the illegal practice of “pushback” of irregular migrants at the Turkish border.
Ankara said in the first 10 months of 2019, 25,404 irregular migrants were pushed back into Turkey by Greece compared to 11,867 in 2018.
The Turkish ministry also said the migrants’ personal belongings were confiscated and that they were subjected to unacceptable treatment, such as beatings, before being pushed back to Turkey by Greek officials.
“The Commission is always concerned about reports of mistreatment of migrants and refugees and takes such allegations very seriously. Any form of violence against or abuse of migrants and refugees is unacceptable,” the EU official told Greek ONE TV channel.
The official added that the EU executive is in contact with the Greek authorities concerning allegations of mistreatment and of non-EU nationals being denied the possibility to apply for asylum as well as the wider implementation of EU legislation on migration and asylum.
“It is, however, first and foremost the responsibility of the Greek authorities to ensure that these rights are respected and that access to asylum procedures is provided to everyone expressing their wish to lodge an application, in accordance with EU law,” the EU spokesperson said, adding that the Greek authorities have denied the allegations.
Mitsotakis hits back
In the meantime, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reacted strongly yesterday (29 October), calling on Turkey to be “more careful”.
“Those who maximised the refugee crisis by using oppressed people as pawns in pursuit of their own geopolitical goals should be more cautious when referring to Greece,” Mitsotakis said.
The conservative leader added that the Greek coastguard has saved thousands of lives at sea while at the same time it’s entrusted with the task of “guarding our borders”.
(Edited by Benjamin Fox)