Mitsotakis says Greece has 'tough but fair' border management policies and has denied claims of illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers at sea.
The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has denied claims of illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers at sea and accused Turkey of producing "misinformation," whilst defending his country's "tough but fair" border management in an interview with CNN.
"If there's any incident that needs to be explored, if there's any exaggeration at any given point, I'm going to be the first to look into it," Mitsotakis told CNN late Wednesday. "Greece is a country that respects the rule of law, we've granted asylum to tens of thousands of people," the PM said.
The New York Times on August 14 said Greece was "abandoning" migrants at sea for the Turkish Coast Guard to rescue, citing evidence from independent sources and the Turkish Coast Guard itself. The Times said more than 1,000 asylum seekers had been "dropped at sea" since March.
PM: Accusation 'an insult to our coastguard'
Mitsotakis said the reports "essentially originate from Turkey. Some of these reporters who do these types of exploratory journalism should be more careful in checking their sources," he said.
"These types of reports are also an insult to our coastguard [which] has saved literally tens of thousands of refugees and migrants at sea, and our islands have always provided shelter to those in greatest need," Mitsotakis added.
Greece has repeatedly denied using illegal tactics to guard its borders, and has in turn accused Turkey of sending patrol boats to escort migrant boats into its waters. Last March, thousands of migrants walked to the Greek border after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would no longer stop migrants trying to get to the EU.
Greek police fired tear gas at migrants and claimed Turkish police were helping the migrants in their attempts to cross the border. Ankara then accused Athens of beating migrants and firing live rounds at them, alleging that some died of bullet wounds.