The flow of refugees and migrants to Greece from Turkey is rising rather than falling, with Greek officials suspecting that Turkish authorities are turning a blind eye to traffickers on purpose.
Greek police officers recorded 28,850 new arrivals on Greek islands between Friday and Sunday, while the coast guard and the European Union’s border agency Frontex rescued 2,561 people from Friday to Monday morning. Five people lost their lives during this period. They included a baby, a 7-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy.
Greek law enforcement officials linked the spike in arrivals to a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ankara for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“While Mrs Merkel was visiting Turkey, Ankara was showing its strength by sending over 30,000 refugees and migrants,” a senior police officer told Kathimerini. “It was as if it was trying to tell the Europeans, ‘Look what kind of problem I can create for you.’”
These thoughts were echoed by a senior official at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry. “The neighboring country’s aim is to try to secure as much as it can in return from the European Union for stemming the flow of refugees and migrants to Greece, and consequently to Central and Northern Europe,” he said.
“Until it secures what it wants in exchange it will not make any effort to contain the flow.”
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.