In an apparent escalation of tensions in the Aegean, Greece accused Turkey on Friday of having its Navy escort migrant boats entering Greek territorial waters and harassing a Greek Coast Guard vessel.
Greece has released photos and videos of the incident, which apparently occurred northeast of Lesvos early in the morning.
The video allegedly shows a Turkish vessel making dangerous and threatening maneuvers against the Greek Coast Guard ship.
It appears to motor at speed toward the Greek ship and veer off just before a collision. The Greek officers remain calm, however, as they watch the Turkish vessel approach.
Greece says that the migrant boats were not allowed to enter the country and were pushed back.
In a statement, Greece’s Minister of Migration & Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, said that the “multiple incidents” were aimed at “provoking an escalation with Greece.”
Referring to the migrant boats he said that “it is beyond doubt that these migrants departed Turkish shores and given the fact they were supported by Turkey, were not at risk.”
Mitarachi called on Turkey to stop the unwarranted provocation, to return these migrants safely to Turkey and live up to the 2016 EU-Turkey Joint Statement on migration.
Greece, EU call on Turkey to take back migrants
Greece and the EU called on Turkey to take back migrants from the Aegean islands during a meeting on Tuesday between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.
They also stressed the need for full implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement of March 18, 2016, according to which Ankara would take back asylum seekers from Greek islands who had their applications rejected.
“I call on Turkey to urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece,” said Johansson during a visit to the island of Lesvos on Monday, which hosts more than 8,000 asylum seekers.