EU Border Agency to Discuss Clashes with Turkish Paramilitary Coastguard

BODRUM, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 15: Members of Turkish coast guard unit 901 members patrol on a boat on the Aegean sea between Turkish resort town of Bodrum and the Greek island of Kos on November 15, 2019 in Bodrum, Turkey. Turkish officials reported over two-fold jump for illegal migrants and …
Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images

The European Union border agency Frontex has moved to discuss recent aggression from the Turkish paramilitary coastguard at an extraordinary meeting of the agency’s directors this week.

The EU border agency’s agents were involved in two separate incidents with Turkish coastguard vessels on April 26th and the 27th that allegedly saw Turkish vessels perform dangerous manoeuvres in the Aegean Sea in the vicinity of Frontex agents from Finland and Sweden.

Both incidents were said to have taken place within Greek territorial waters, according to a report from the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Officials from Finland and Sweden are said to have labelled the incidents as “very serious”. According to sources speaking to Kathimerini, the first took place off the Greek island of Chios and saw a Turkish boat turn its navigation lights off and enter a collision course with a Finnish vessel that was barely moving.

Just a day later, in the same area, a Turkish vessel made moves described by the newspaper as threatening towards a Swedish vessel, forcing its captain to perform manoeuvres to avoid a collision with the Turkish boat.

Fabrice Leggeri, the Executive Director of Frontex, later released a letter commenting on the two incidents addressed to European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and European Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.

“The actions of the Turkish Coast Guard do not respect any coast guard protocol, nor maritime behavioural standards. These incidents repeatedly raise safety and security concerns by vessels and crews deployed by EU Member States to the Frontex coordinated Joint Operation Poseidon,” Mr Leggeri said.

“Frontex assets deployed in the area have to constantly assess the situational environment, as the Turkish Coast Guard still employs a mix of cooperative actions taking over migrants in the Turkish territorial waters and hostile behaviours in apparent attempts for pushing migrants from the Turkish waters to the Greek waters,” he added.

Greek officials have previously accused Turkish authorities of helping migrants cross the Aegean Sea by escorting boats.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said last month: “This morning, the Hellenic Coast Guard reported multiple incidents of the Turkish Coast Guard and Navy accompanying flimsy migrant boats to the border of Europe in an effort to provoke an escalation with Greece.”

“It is beyond doubt that these migrants departed Turkish shores and given the fact they were supported by Turkey, were not at risk,” he added, according to the Associated Press.

Last year, prior to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Turkey was also accused of helping to smuggle migrants across the northern land border. A Turkish soldier told Swedish media that his commander had ordered him and his comrades to show migrants how to reach Greece.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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