The Turkish Embassy in Athens criticized and rejected false reports against Türkiye published by Greek media outlets.
It called out Greek news organizations for failing to retract fabricated reports based on a video that they claimed showed Turkish authorities pushing irregular migrants toward Greece.
The video in question was from 2019 and actually showed Turkish teams trying to stop migrants from heading to Greece, the embassy clarified in a series of tweets.
"Several Greek news outlets were quick to disseminate a purported ‘visual proof of Turkish push-forward of irregular migrants' this past week," the embassy said.
"We would have expected similarly swift and honest retractions when it turned out that the video (which was itself from 2019) actually shows strenuous efforts by the Turkish coast guard doing just the opposite – i.e. trying to intercept a migrant boat from making the crossing to the Greek side."
The embassy also attached a Turkish coast guard statement on the incident released on Sept. 9, 2019.
"We hope to thus fill the information gap," the embassy added.
Earlier this week, Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Çataklı had also rejected and slammed claims by the Greek migration minister on migrant pushbacks.
The incident, which took place near the Madra Çayı on Sept. 5, 2019, involved a migrant boat carrying out maneuvers, risking the lives of individuals on board.
“Despite all the interferences of both 2 CG boats, the person who was steering the migrant boat didn’t stop the boat. He resisted all preventive and approaching maneuvers and kept doing maneuvers that put the lives of irregular migrants in danger,” the coast guard statement said, adding that a migrant also tried to puncture the rubber tubes of the coast guard’s boat with his knife.
“One other migrant injured himself by cutting some part of his body with a razor and he threatened CG staff that he would throw the babies on the boat into the water. He prevented the migrants on board who wished to get ropes from CG staff. He also tried to batter some migrants who wanted to stop him,” the coast guard said. A migrant then tore off the coast guard boat’s outboard engine’s cables and refused to cooperate with authorities.
The coast guard staff then interfered with long sticks, which were used for moving the location of a maritime asset.
“These interferences to the engine and the propeller of the migrant boat were interpreted on social media as if the migrants were subjected to violence. The migrant boat was taken under control with difficulty as it ran out of fuel oil,” the statement said.
The migrants on the boat were transferred to the coast guard boat and were safely brought to the coast.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Greek minister shared footage, claiming that the Turkish coast guard was “violently pushing forward migrants to Greece, in violation of international law.”
In September, the European Commission said it expects Greek authorities to investigate allegations of pushbacks of asylum-seekers by border guards, including recent reports of an incident leading to the death of five children.
Türkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back irregular migrants, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean to reach Northern and Western Europe in search of a better life. Hundreds of people have died at sea as many boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others.
Türkiye and Greece have been key transit points for migrants looking to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Türkiye has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary deportations and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, violating international law. Ankara also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant human rights abuse.
Pushbacks are contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which dictate that people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or membership in a social or political group.