The Greek Foreign Ministry accused Turkey of ‘weaponizing migration’ after a border incident near Evros where dozens of migrants remained stranded for days until Greek authorities rescued them.
“[This] is yet another attempt by Turkey to weaponize migration, and possibly create a border issue as well,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Monday, Greek police found 35 Syrians and three Palestinians, among them one pregnant woman and seven children, who had been hiding in Greek territory after crossing the river from Turkey.
According to their testimony, Kathimerini reported, the migrants were encouraged by Turkish military police to enter Greek territory, where they were eventually picked up.
“The Turkish authorities arrested these migrants inside Turkey, they did not give them the right to apply for international protection, as Turkey is bound to do by international law,” Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said. “The Turkish gendarmerie brought them to the bank of the Evros and, under the threat of violence, pressured them to come to Greece.”
The migrants had been trapped on the islet since August 7. After crossing the river on Monday, they were found in the Lavara area and taken to a reception and identification center. According to their testimonies, a 5-year-old child died on Turkish territory.
Mitarakis said the government would work with Red Cross and Red Crescent officials to recover the child’s body and hold a dignified funeral.
“In the face of this new attempt against our national interests, prudence and responsibility are required of all political forces in our country, rather than an attempt by part of the opposition to turn the issue into a field of partisan confrontation,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in its statement.
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