NEWS

Turkey blamed for migrants

Greece believes that problems related to the large number of illegal immigrants entering the country can be solved through cooperation between states and accused Turkey of dodging its international obligations. «At a time when all evidence shows beyond all doubt that the eastern coastal and sea borders of Greece are under continual pressure from an increasing number of illegal immigrants, there are certain groups in Turkey that are trying to distort the truth,» said Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos. «Turkey does not effectively meet obligations undertaken in the Hellenic Turkish protocol of 2001,» he added. The ministry’s comments follow accusations from the Turkish military on Saturday that Greece dumped boatloads of illegal immigrants in Turkish waters, exposing thousands of them to «human drama» that included the risk of death. «Greece, in violation of agreements and protocols in force, has been observed sometimes unilaterally abandoning clandestine migrants in Turkish territorial waters and/or on the Turkish side of the border river Meric,» a statement posted on the official military website said. «It can be said that the human drama resulting from this goes beyond what is acceptable.» The statement said 11,993 migrants stopped by Greece were abandoned on Turkish territory between 2002 and 2007. Last year alone there were 3,047 such cases, it said. The statement claimed six migrants drowned and three others went missing when their vessel, allegedly towed into Turkish waters by the Greeks, capsized in September 2006. Greek authorities have already denied any responsibility for that incident. Last month, Iranian and Afghan migrants told Turkish police they had been pushed back into Turkish waters by the Greek coastguard, which had also punctured their inflatable boat.