Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday called on NATO to increase its naval patrols in the Aegean after the recent threat by Turkey to allow millions of additional migrants to cross into Greece.
“I asked the Secretary General and the Alliance, and member states, to strengthen their presence… in the Aegean Sea with more ships,” Mitsotakis said after his talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“We ask… for the mission to be expanded to the south Aegean so we can cover the full scope of our country’s maritime borders,” the Greek Prime Minister stated, adding that he would also raise the issue at the NATO summit in December.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier threatened that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticized Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in Syria.
Following the meeting with the NATO chief, Mitsotakis said that it is the obligation of the international community and NATO to exert every influence towards a ceasefire in Syria to prevent escalation and new migration flows, and to avoid the further loss of lives.
On his part, Stoltenberg stated that “We expect all nations to comply with international law,” but added that “it is not NATO’s role to take sides on international issues,” referring to the alliance’s policy of keeping an equidistance towards Turkey and Greece.
Stoltenberg further remarked that Greece’s armed forces play a special role within the alliance, as the country fulfills its NATO obligation to contribute two percent of its GDP to national defense. He added that the focus of their discussion was security and stability, and examining how the alliance could help manage irregular migration flows.
The NATO secretary general then recommended self-restraint to Turkey during its military offensive in Syria so that human suffering may be reduced, and he emphasized that countries must help another in the war against ISIS.