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NATO patrols helping stem refugee flow, says Stoltenberg

TAGS: Politics, Defense

Joint NATO patrols in the Aegean have had a “significant” impact on reducing refugee flows from Turkey to Greece, the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, has told Kathimerini.

Stoltenberg, who visited Ankara on Thursday and Athens on Friday, said that NATO patrols are exchanging information about smugglers “in real time” with the Greek and Turkish coast guards, as well as Frontex.

When questioned about expanding NATO’s operations to the Dodecanese islands, which Turkey insists should be “demilitarized,” Stoletenberg said the alliance has been in discussions with Athens and Ankara about patrolling further south in the Aegean. However, he stressed that the patrols have so far focused on the areas around Lesvos and Chios as this is where inflows are concentrated.

The Norwegian official argued that the noticeable drop in arrivals in April compared to February and March has justified the decision to focus efforts there.

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