Turkish exploitation of migrants prompts Greece to suspend asylum claims and increase deportations

ATHENS – Greece has prevented nearly 35,000 refugees and migrants from crossing into its territory illegally since Turkey opened its border nearly a week ago in an attempt to extract military and financial support from the EU. Greece is preparing to deport hundreds of refugees and migrants who have managed to cross the border illegally.

On 28 February, Turkey announced it would no longer prevent refugees and migrants from attempting to cross their borders in Europe, even busing many to the Greek-Turkish border.

Ankara accused Greek border guards and police forces of shooting and killing four migrants, accusations Athens denies, saying Turkish police were helping migrants cross the border. Footage released by the Greek government this week shows Turkish police firing tear gas across the border at Greek police.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylo accused the Greek authorities of injuring 164 people and pushing nearly 5,000 more back into Turkey.

According to Greek sources, Greek border guards have prevented about 7,000 attempted crossings in the past 24 hours. Greek Immigration Minister Notis Miratchi said migrants who arrived in Greece illegally after 1 March will be transferred to the northern city of Ceres, in preparation for their repatriation.