German soldiers have filed reports saying that they had repeatedly observed migrant boats in the Mediterranean being pushed back into Turkish waters. The German dpa news agency said it had information chronicling at least three such instances in June 2020 alone.
The revelation came in response to a parliamentary question submitted by Left-Party MP Andrej Hunko. In it, he intended to find out what kind of reports German security forces working on boats or aircraft in the Aegean region as part of the EU’s external borders agency Frontex had made with regard to pushbacks of migrants and refugees.
In particular, Hunko said he wanted to gain information on whether any migrants had been "pushed back into Turkish waters."
In response to the query, the government highlighted a report dated June 19, which said that a German navy supply vessel called the "Berlin," which currently heads the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 in the Aegean region, had observed instances of such pushbacks.
The "Berlin" is tasked with monitoring the sea and coordinating operations with neighboring countries as part of its Frontex mandate. It also oversees regional search and rescue centers. "The German government is in constant communication with the Greek government and points out existing provisions of international law," the German government said.
Read more: Greece: Migrants attacked in the Aegean
Pushbacks at sea
Meanwhile the Greek coast guard responded to social media reports stating that a similar incident had been reported south of the island of Lesbos last weekend, saying it was unaware of any such developments.
Other reports state that migrants have actually died as part of illegal pushback operation in Aegean waters -- however, these reports remain largely unconfirmed.
BREAKING: Alleged pushback believed to have killed 4 ppl outside #Lesvos!— Aegean Boat Report (@ABoatReport) June 29, 2020
A boat carrying 39 ppl was reported in distress west of #Turkey. TCG picked up 35 people in the sea, 4 people are missing & believed to be drowned. Rescue operations ongoing. More: https://t.co/u0porqpboW
Andrej Hunko demanded the EU "must immediately comment on the incidents now documented by the federal German government."
He further insisted that Frontex missions in the region be stopped in the face of allegations that the Greek government in Athens might be violating the European Convention on Human Rights by not interfering against pushbacks.