Migrant Crossings Surging Between Greece and Turkey as Tensions Rise

A Greek patrol ship of the Hellenic Navy is patrolling the Aegean Sea water borders between Greece and Turkey, just outside Kos Island with Turkey in the background with summer houses, resorts and hotels visible. Patrols are for military purposes but also for boats with refugees and migrants in addition …
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The number of migrants attempting to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece is increasing as Greece claims that its authorities have turned away as many as 40,000 migrants since the start of the year.

Greece has claimed that more and more migrants have been attempting to reach the country from Turkey in recent weeks and that the Greek Coast Guard has turned away at least 40,000 people so far who have attempted to illegally cross the border.

“In the first four months of 2022, about 40,000 migrants tried to enter the country illegally,” Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos stated last Saturday and added, “They may have been prevented from doing so by the border police.”

Some suspect that the Turkish government may be letting more migrants make the attempt to cross into Greece, with Marc-Antoine Pineau, of the NGO ASIA in Samos, telling the website InfoMigrants, “Admittedly, the mild weather conditions partly explain these attempts at arrivals, but there is also a worrying political explanation.”

Tensions have been mounting between Greece and Turkey in recent days as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he would no longer conduct talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and accused the Greek leader of trying to block the sale of American fighter planes to Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu went even further this week, stating that the Turkish government was prepared to challenge the sovereignty of various eastern islands in the Agean Sea stating, “Greece has violated status of the eastern Aegean islands, so Greece must disarm these islands. Otherwise, the sovereignty debate will begin.”

The increased migrant flows are the first major surge since just prior to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic when President Erdogan made good on prior threats to “open the gates” to Europe and allow migrants to make their way to Greece, with thousands attempting to cross the northern land border in Evros before it was shut down due to the pandemic outbreak.

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