Greece accused of pushing migrant boat back into Turkish waters

Turkish video shows occupants of boat attaching rope to small rubber dinghy

Water levels in the Evros, the river that acts as a border border between Greece and Turkey, are low and adding to a wider problem. AP
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Migrants on a boat approaching Greece were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters, Turkey said on Monday.

Drone footage posted on social media shows the Greek coastguard pulling the boat into Turkish waters near the south-western resort of Marmaris, Turkey’s defence ministry said.

The Greek coastguard had no immediate comment but Greece routinely denies that its security forces engage in illegal pushbacks.

The video shows occupants of a boat attaching a rope from its stern to a small rubber dinghy containing an unknown number of supposed migrants.

The boat then reverses before detaching from the dinghy and moving off.

Migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey are usually aiming to start a new life either in the European Union or in the UK.

Human rights groups, including the UN refugee agency, have previously accused Greek authorities of pushing migrants out of the country's territorial waters, sometimes with the collusion of the European border agency, Frontex.

Greece regularly blames Turkey for not taking sufficient action to curb people smugglers who send migrants in unsafe boats and dinghies from its shores, in breach of a 2016 agreement with the EU.

The two Nato allies have locked horns over a series of issues in recent years, including migration and oil and gas drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, specifically around Greek islands near Turkey’s coastline.

A Turkish survey mission two years ago triggered a tense naval stand-off that western allies had warned ran the risk of turning into a military conflict.

Greece said migration flows to the its islands in the first four months of 2022 were about 30 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Athens has also reported heightened migrant activity on Greece's land border with Turkey, as water levels are low in the Evros, the river that divides the two countries.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 3:16 PM