ATHENS, Greece: After a sharp increase in attempted entries by migrants through its Aegean islands and land border with Turkey over the past few days, the government of Greece warned that it would no longer allow the illegal entry of migrants by land or sea.
In 2015 and 2016, when one million refugees fleeing war and poverty from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived, mainly via Turkey, Greece became the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis.
While the number of arrivals has sharply dropped, in recent weeks Greek authorities said they had stopped a significant number of migrants from entering the country.
According to police data, about a dozen vessels with hundreds of migrants on board unsuccessfully attempted to cross from Turkey to the Greek islands in recent days.
“We will not allow anyone to enter Greece illegally, either from Evros or through the islands. Let everyone realize this,” said Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos on TV channel ANT1.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused the Greek prime minister of blocking sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, during a visit to the U.S.
Greece and Turkey are historic rivals and have competing territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean, while also conflicting on migrant issues.
According to Greek government data, some 11,000 migrants entered Greece through the Greek-Turkish land border in the region of Evros or through the Aegean islands in the first four months of 2022, which was 25 percent higher than in 2021.