Defense minister says Greece blocked Turkey’s EU ‘blackmail’ with migrants


If Turkey’s efforts to push irregular migrants through Greece’s border in March this year has succeeded, it would have been able to “blackmail” the European Union for more funds for managing migration, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Thursday. during an online event organised by the German Marshall Fund.

Discussing tensions between Athens and Ankara during an online event organised by the German Marshall Fund, Panagiotopoulos argued that problems started earlier this year during an “organized attempt” to violate Greek borders in the northeastern region of Evros.

“If the illegal entry attempt had been successful, it could have destabilized our government and undermined our domestic security. In this way, Turkey would have been able to blackmail Europe into extracting more resources to manage migration flows,” he was quoted as saying by news website Hellas Journal.

He said “provocations continued” with Turkey sending out the Oruc Reis to conduct surveying activity accompanied by warships. “This forced us to tackle this mobilization by deploying our own ships in the area,” he said.

Panagiotopoulos said it is now calmer in the southern Aegean and there is less movement of warships, which is “definitely a step in the right direction.”