Türkiye criticizes Greece for ‘slander, defamation’ campaign


BY DAILY SABAH

 ISTANBUL OCT 17, 2022 –

Turkish Coast Guard units rescue irregular migrants pushed back by Greece off Aegean Sea on Sept. 13, 2022. (Interior Ministry Handout)

Turkish Coast Guard units rescue irregular migrants pushed back by Greece off Aegean Sea on Sept. 13, 2022. (Interior Ministry Handout)

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The Interior Ministry rejected and slammed the Greek migration minister’s claims on Türkiye’s treatment of irregular migrants, saying that the latter is attempting to distort the truth by using undated photos and slander and defamation against Ankara.

Criticizing Greece and minister Notis Mitarachi, the ministry said Athens is desperate as its inhumane treatment of migrants has been voiced by Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who brought up the issue during his speech at the U.N.

“It is very apparent that Greece is trying to cover up the systematic unlawful pushbacks they have been doing routinely by confiscating all the belongings of the migrants including their money, phone, ID and passports, throwing them into the sea, by taking all their clothing and shoes, battering them naked with batons, injuring them with electro-shock devices, shooting at them with rubber bullets or putting them on worn-out lifeboats,” the ministry said in a statement.

It continued by noting that Greece’s inhumane treatment and actions against migrants have been documented in images and reports, which show Greek authorities puncturing boats, removing their engines and beating migrants.

“Just last month they punctured the boat of a group of migrants including babies and infants who were trying to reach Italy from Lebanon. Having lost all their valuables, these people were left to death. The 9-month-old Asım and his 4 years-old brother Abdülvahap lost their lives as a result of this inhuman treatment,” the ministry said.

Noting that Athens fails to provide an explanation for its treatment of migrants, the ministry said Athens is trying to put the blame on Türkiye through defamation and slander.

Pointing to the fact that there has been serious pressure on Athens regarding its violations, the ministry said Greece’s actions violate international law, while noting that the report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) highlighted abuse, irregularities and covering up pushbacks of migrants toward Türkiye by EU border agency Frontex.

“Within this context, we underline that the fact that the Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum still holds his office and continues his baseless allegations against our country, whereas the Executive Director of FRONTEX was discharged from his position during the investigations and supervisions on the pushbacks, is unacceptable and we leave this to the discretion of the public opinion.”

Some 61,737 migrants were pushed back by Greek authorities since 2020, and 152 of these migrants lost their lives, while 200 were injured, the ministry said.

“We call upon Greece that has yet to account for the drowned babies in the Aegean Sea to end the inhuman treatments against migrants and the migration policy that results in deaths,” the ministry added.

Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also criticized Greece for “stepping up slander” against Türkiye.

The criticism comes a day after Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi accused Türkiye of mistreating 92 refugees on the Greek-Turkish border on Twitter, and also shared a photograph of immigrants who were robbed, stripped naked and abandoned.

Last week, a report by OLAF said employees of Frontex have been covering up Greece’s illegal pushbacks of migrants to Türkiye in violation of peoples’ “fundamental rights.”

OLAF investigators poured over information from open sources, media reports but also documents from Frontex, the European Commission and interviews with 20 witnesses to investigate accusations of possible involvement and/or covering up of illegal pushbacks and accusations of misconduct or irregularities.

Frontex officers also may not have reported alleged pushbacks due to fear of repercussions from Greece, the report said. In one case, the report said the EU border agency relocated one of its planes apparently “to avoid witnessing incidents in the Aegean Sea.”

source https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/diplomacy/turkiye-criticizes-greece-for-slander-defamation-campaign

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