Mitsotakis: Those who exploit refugee crisis for geopolitical gains shouldn't lob claims about Greece

Tuesday, 29 October 2019 15:29
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday underlined that Greece was dealing with "flows of refugees and migrants that are asymmetrical to its size and population", while flatly dismissing recent claims by the Turkish foreign minister of mistreatment of irregular migrants by the Greek coast guard.

The center-right Greek premier spoke at the first day of 4th European Union-Arab World Summit in Athens, where he noted that "border islands are over-burdened, and sites on the mainland with (migrant/refugee) shelters are now seeing the first problems."

"Taking a cue from what was heard over recent days, I must stress that Greece's coast guard has saved thousands of lives in the seas. At the same time, it (coast guard) is responsible for guarding our (sea) borders, which this government will fulfill to the fullest. Those who exploited the refugee crisis, using those fleeing persecution as pawns for their own geopolitical goals, should be more careful when they speak about Greece," he said, a direct reference to Turkey.

The latter country has served as a "mustering point" for third country nationals fleeing war zones in the Middle East over recent years, but also for would-be migrants aiming to make it to western and northern Europe, people hailing from sub-Saharan Africa to Central Asia and South Asia.

More than 580 arrivals of third country nationals landing on Greek territory or being picked up by coast guard and Frontex vessels while heading towards Greek isles were recorded since Friday, with 16 suspects arrested as migrant smugglers.

The Greek prime minister also condemned the most surging barrage of unilateral Turkish claims and Ankara's singular comprehension of international law, saying: "... some are disputing  facts in place for decades, and putting forth unacceptable claims," in both Cyprus' EEZ and the Aegean.

Back on a broader front, he said Europe and the Arab world must better coordinate actions to deal with the migration issue, stressing that "Greece cannot alone shoulder the problems of three continents."

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