The Greek Coast Guard had to deal with several incidents with Turkish vessels near the island of Lesbos on Friday. According to Greek officials, Turkish ships performed dangerous maneuvers and tried to push boats with migrants into the Greek territorial waters. Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis called it an “unjustified provocation”, while the Turkish side has not yet given comment.
The Greek Coast Guard said that six boats with about 300 migrants were trying to reach the island of Lesbos from Turkey on Friday morning. There were also six Turkish patrol boats in the area, which did not prevent migrants from sailing in any way, but instead accompanied them to Greek waters or tried to push them into them, Kathimerini wrote.
Turkey and Greece have long-standing disputes over migrants going to the Greek islands by sea. In the past, the Turkish Coast Guard and numerous human rights organizations have accused the Greeks of trying to drive migrants back to Turkey without giving them the right to apply for asylum, the AP warned.
“On Friday morning, the Hellenic Coast Guard reported numerous incidents with the Turkish Coast Guard and the Navy, which accompanied the shaky boats with migrants to Europe’s borders in an attempt to provoke a conflict with Greece,” Minister Mitarakis said in a statement.
The Greek Coast Guard has released videos showing, among other things, a Turkish ship approaching a Greek vessel at high speed and narrowly passing it. Camera footage also showed Turkish ships sailing alongside boats with migrants towards Greece. According to the AP, however, the migrants did not reach Greek territory in the end as they were picked up by other Turkish vessels.
Title image: In this photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard and taken from a vessel shows a dinghy with migrants, left, with Turkish ships in the background, in the narrow stretch of water between the eastern Greek island of Lesbos and the Turkish coast on Friday, April 2, 2021. (Hellenic Coast Guard via AP)