The Greek government rejected new claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the country’s security forces attack and rob migrants trying to reach its shores, saying Ankara should instead focus on stopping traffickers who send migrants across the Aegean on flimsy boats.
“More than 108 migrants, among them 21 children, who had been left to their fate in the middle of the sea were rescued after a large operation, under very adverse conditions, by the [Greek] Coast Guard,” government spokesperson Giannis Economou said on Monday during a press briefing, referring to the 108 people rescued from a sailboat off the coast of Delos.
“This operation carried out by the men and women of the Coast Guard is another confounding response to their systematic slanderers, but also to those who promote these slanderers,” he added.
“May those who very easily exercise reckless and critical criticism of the Greek Coast Guard see the facts and turn their attention to the smashing of the smuggling rings and those who cover them.”
Speaking in a video message for Global Parliamentary Conference on migration in Istanbul, Erdogan was quoted as saying that “refugees are persecuted, robbed, beaten and even murdered” by Greek security forces “almost every day.”