Athens again Thursday rejected accusations by Ankara of inhuman treatment towards migrants, calling them “false and non-existent allegations.”
“Turkey has enormous responsibilities for the instrumentalization of refugees,” said government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou.
These claims, which were repeated Thursday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are seen in Athens as part of an ongoing propaganda narrative propagated by Ankara to slander Greece in the eyes of its western partners and to ratchet up pressure by exploiting the refugee crisis.
On Wednesday, Migration Policy Minister Notis Mitarakis dismissed similar allegations by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
Analysts in Turkey say the Turkish government’s stance on the issue is becoming increasingly harsh due to the closure of channels through which refugees and migrants can enter the European Union. Turkish officials almost daily allege that Greek authorities are using heavy handed tactics.
Erdogan blames Greece for the death this week of 12 migrants within Turkish territory, in Ipsala, saying that “it is not the first time we see this attitude from Greece.”
“In fact, there were many people whose boats were punctured and sunk, sentenced to death. Unfortunately, this is an example of the Greek civilization,” he said.
Speaking just a few minutes before an official trip to Ukraine, Erdogan also sought to blame the EU for “remaining silent,” while adding that its border agency, Frontex, is “useless as it does nothing.”
Analysts predict the likelihood of a new wave of refugees spilling over in all directions due to economic and political developments in Turkey. Polls suggest that Turkey’s economic crisis is stoking dismay over the refugee issue, even among government supporters, who see cheap migrant labor as fueling unemployment.