The Minister of Immigration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis called on Turkey to stop using immigration as a tool to advance its political aims during a press conference with the foreign correspondents.
The minister reportedly accused Turkey of consciously “instrumentalising” the refugee and immigration crisis and exploiting the plight and the misfortune of refugees and immigrants, while cooperating with NGOs to facilitate the illegal entry of Somalis into the EU via Greece.
“A few days ago we experienced a tragic shipwreck in the Aegean because of the Turkish Coast Guard that did not intervene despite being contacted by the fatal boat. NGOs contributed to the illegal crossing, which violates the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration. Illegal transit that endangers human lives. With boats unsuitable and with people, without permission completely lacking any knowledge of seafaring,” said the minister.
“In recent weeks, arrivals of migrants from Somalia have been observed in Lesvos, a country that does not border Greece. Of the 214 arrivals since November 1 in Lesvos, 142 are from Somalia. According to testimonies and cross-referenced intelligence, NGOs cover the costs of transporting & issuing Visas to Turkey, with flights to Istanbul. They are then transported to the Turkish coast, where smugglers, again with the support of NGOs, help them to enter the European Union illegally. These crossings must and will be blocked in every legal way. We do not want our country to be the gateway to Europe. Also, asylum applications from people coming from a safe environment will be considered inadmissible. As a Ministry, we are completing the necessary changes in the process.”
At the press conference, Somali immigrants aboard a boat that sank on December 2 near Lesvos described how Turkey facilitated instead of stopping the human traffickers.
He went on to says that Turkey had to prevent illegal crossings, as it is obliged under the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration. “There should be no boats starting from the Turkish coast”, he underlined.