Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Çataklı rejected and slammed claims by the Greek migration minister on migrant pushbacks on Wednesday, as tensions between the two countries build amid ongoing disagreements in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, the Cyprus issue and more.
In a Twitter message, the deputy minister said Notis Mitarachi was digging up the trash bin due to his pang of guilt.
We are aware that you are digging up the dumpster due to your guilty conscience @nmitarakis
You’ve only managed to find and share a distorted video from 3 years ago.
You would not be ashamed, but for those enquiring truth of the matter, pls see the linkOctober 5, 2022
“You’ve only managed to find and share a distorted video from 3 years ago. You would not be ashamed, but for those enquiring truth of the matter, pls see the link,” Çataklı, who is also the Interior Ministry’s spokesperson, said in his message.
The link he mentioned referred to a statement posted in 2019 by the Turkish Coast Guard Command. The coast guard rejected claims of pushing back migrants, saying that the claims were “unfounded.”
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 using the migrant boat didn’t stop the boat. He resisted to all preventive and approaching maneuvers and kept doing maneuvers which 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.
“1 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 applied 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.