Turkey and Greece trade accusations of 92 naked migrants

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey and Greece exchanged more information Monday mutual accusations over 92 migrants who were found naked by Greek authorities on the two countries’ shared border, a day after the United Nations called for an investigation into the incident.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi on Saturday tweeted the photo of naked migrants, some with physical injuries, accusing Turkey of pushing them into Greece and stripping them naked before doing so. This claim led Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish president’s director of communications, to accuse Greece of engaging in “ fake news.”

On Monday, Turkey’s foreign minister again rejected those accusations and accused Athens of “shameless and reckless” behavior. He also took aim at European Union countries, accusing them of encouraging EU member Greece to “slander” Turkey.

Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou, meanwhile, accused Turkey of “continuing to openly instrumentalize migrants, and even with unprecedented and unimaginable practices of barbarism.”

The exchange of accusations comes at a time when tensions between two neighbors is growing, with the two engaging in mutual accusations of airspace violations, with Turkey accusing Greece of militarizing Aegean islands in violation of international treaties and threatening possible military action.

“To be able to look right even when you are wrong like Greece – you have to be shameless and reckless. Only Greece can achieve this,” Cavusoglu said at a press conference at the end of a meeting of Turkish foreign ministers in Istanbul.

“It is natural that Greece … tries to defame Turkey as its crimes increase,” Cavusoglu said. “Unfortunately, there are member states of the European Union who want to believe that, who want to accept everything Greece says as true… That’s what encourages Greece.”

Greek police announced on Saturday that the police officers found the migrants completely naked on Friday, “some with physical injuries”. They entered the country using plastic boats to cross the Evros River – known as Meric in Turkey – which forms the border between the two countries.

“This inhumane behavior is a shame for civilization and the Turkish leadership, instead of blaming others for what is happening on its territory, it should investigate the incident, punish those directly involved and honor its obligations under the Joint Declaration with the EU,” the Greek spokesperson government said in reference to the 2016 agreement to stem the flow of refugees.

Turkey regularly accuses Greece of violently suppressing migrants entering the country by land and sea. The Turkish Coast Guard often shares videos of such rejections.

Greece accuses Turkey, which hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, of “pushing forward” migrants to put pressure on the EU.

The UN refugee agency said it was “deeply disturbed by the shocking reports”, condemning the “degrading treatment” and calling for an investigation.


Derek Gatopoulos contributed to this report from Athens, Greece.


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