Ship of migrants in Aegean limbo

Greece yesterday accused Turkey of breaking bilateral agreements on the return of illegal immigrants after Turkish coast guard vessels repeatedly refused to escort back to the coast of Asia Minor a yacht carrying 88 economic migrants that has been trying to enter Greek waters for a week. Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis said the 15-meter Valentino, a Greek-owned yacht chartered to Polish national Dariusz Stora, was spotted by a coast guard patrol heading for Greek waters near the eastern Aegean island of Samos last Thursday. He said the Turkish authorities were immediately notified so that they could escort the migrant-smuggling vessel back to Turkey, from where it is believed to have set sail. But Turkish patrol boats took no action to assist the vessel, whose captain claimed to have suffered engine failure. The Valentino crossed between Turkish and international waters for days – reportedly with a pregnant woman and five men on board requiring medical attention – and repeated appeals to the Turks failed to bear fruit. The Merchant Marine Ministry said Turkish vessels tried to force the yacht into Greek waters.

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