A government minister warned on Tuesday that Greece would not allow the illegal entry of migrants by land or by sea, after a sharp increase in attempted entries through its Aegean islands and land border with Turkey over the past few days.
About a dozen vessels with hundreds of migrants on board have attempted unsuccessfully to cross from Turkey’s coast to the Greek islands in the past 48 hours, according to police data. On Tuesday, the coast guard said more than 590 people had tried to cross into the country by sea within a few hours.
“We won’t allow anyone to enter Greece illegally either from Evros or through the islands. Let everyone realise this,” Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos said on the ANT1 TV channel.
Theodorikakos was speaking a day after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused the Greek prime minister of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States. “He no longer exists for me,” Erdogan said.
About 11,000 migrants entered Greece through the Greek-Turkish land border in the region of Evros or through the Aegean islands in the first four months of the year, 25% higher than a year ago, according to government data. [Reuters]