The European Commission called on Greece and Croatia to immediately launch an investigation into whether migrants are being illegally expelled at their borders, with the German ARD public news station and Der Spiegel magazine reporting about these cases.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson called the reports “shocking.”
Based on video recordings, the German media reported that the Croatian police had pushed migrants back across the border to Bosnia in at least 11 cases. According to them, the Greek coast guard also forced refugees to sail back from the Greek shores by force.
“The Commission is fundamentally opposed to extrusion practices and has repeatedly emphasized that such conduct is illegal and that national authorities have a duty to investigate any allegations,” said a spokesman of the European Commission.
Johansson noted that she found the evidence in the reports credible and therefore wanted to talk to the interior ministers of Greece and Croatia, who are now in Brussels.
However, Greece denied the allegations.
“Greece’s borders are the EU’s borders, and we operate and protect them under international and European law,” said Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis.
“We will not apologize for still trying to thwart human smuggling operations and protect Europe’s borders,” he added.
Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović, on the other hand, promised that the police would properly investigate all allegations.
“The expert team will find out what happened, where and who was involved,” the minister said.
In the case of Greece, reports that its coast guard has driven migrants back from the border into Turkish waters, but also the other way around, occur repeatedly. NGOs say they have documented hundreds of such cases.