Greece on Thursday rejected claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the country lets migrants die at sea and on its borders as “completely unfounded and false.”
“Turkey has enormous responsibilities for the instrumentalization of refugees,” spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said at a regular press briefing Thursday. “Our country has proven by rescuing people in the Evros [region] and the Aegean that it respects the rule of law, that it respects humanity and pursues a strict but fair immigration policy.”
He described Erdogan’s comments as “propaganda and false allegations” that cannot not disguise “Turkey’s intent to instrumentalize refugees.”
Speaking in a news conference on Thursday before heading to Ukraine, Erdogan said that EU border agency Frontex is a “useless” EU organization that does nothing but provide assistance to Greece while turning a blind eye at pushbacks, according to comments cited by Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper.
His comment came a day after at least 12 irregular migrants were found frozen to death in northwestern Turkey. Ankara says they were pushed back from Greece, a claim vehemently denied by Athens.