BY DAILY SABAH
ANKARA FEB 08, 2022 –
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is reiterating a proposal to establish cooperation with the Greek Cypriots on irregular migration, an issue affecting the whole island, the TRNC Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
Underlining that the proposal was still on the table, the ministry in a written statement said that the Turkish side is always open to dialogue and constructive steps.
The ministry slammed the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece for “covering up the inhumane practices on migrants including deaths” and accusing Turkey and the TRNC of being responsible.
It also added that Greece and the Greek Cypriots have made a habit of abusing their EU membership.
Last week, Turkey revealed it found 19 frozen bodies close to the Greek border, accusing Athens of allowing the migrants to die in the winter cold after stripping them of their clothes and forcing them back across the border. Greece has strongly rejected the accusation.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed last week to expose Greece’s alleged illegal pushbacks of migrants at every opportunity.
The incident also received harsh criticism from Turkey’s defense and foreign ministries. Greece must immediately end its inhumane practices on land borders and at sea, the Defense Ministry said on Friday.
Turkey’s interior minister said initially that 12 migrants had died after allegedly being forced back into Turkey. He said they were found near the border, “without shoes and stripped of their clothes.” One of the migrants was found alive but later died in hospital. There was no information about the migrants’ nationalities.
Recent years have seen multiple reports of Greek forces illegally pushing back boats of asylum-seekers, endangering the passengers in the process.
Turkey is a major crossing point for migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in European Union countries.
Most try to cross into Greece – a key gateway to the EU for people fleeing war or poverty – by either crossing the northeastern land border or cramming into boats headed for the eastern Aegean Sea islands.
Greece’s Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi last week described the deaths as a “tragedy” but strongly denied the claim that Greek forces had pushed back the migrants, insisting that the migrants never made it to the border.