Turkey deploys 1,000 special police forces to Greek border to stop migrant pushbacks

On March 4th, a video was shared on Twitter, purportedly showing a Turkish police officer forcing Syrian migrants off a bus near the Greek border, while they’re resisting to go.

Turkey is deploying 1,000 special police forces along its border with Greece to halt the pushback of migrants toward its territory, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said, adding that 164 migrants had been wounded by Greek authorities.

Soylu’s comments come amid a war of words between Ankara and Athens following Turkey’s decision to no longer abide by a 2016 deal with the European Union to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for billions of euros in aid.

“They wounded 164 people. They tried to push 4,900 people back to Turkey,” he said. “We are deploying 1,000 special force police to the border system… to prevent the push-back.”

In regard to claims that a migrant had been killed, Greece denied any such thing had happened.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas was adamant there had been “no such incident with fire from the Greek authorities” and accused Turkey of “creating and spreading fake news”.

The Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen expressed her support of Greece as the “shield” of the EU.

“Our first priority is to ensure order is maintained at the Greek external border, which is also a European border,” Ursula von der Leyen said.

She promised Greece, which she called a “European aspida [shield]”, €700m in financial aid.

The EU also sent a Frontex force comprising seven vessels, two helicopters, one plane, three thermal-vision vehicles and 100 extra border guards, as well as has provided civil protection aid including medical equipment and teams, and shelters.

“The Greek worries are our worries,” von der Leyen told reporters at the Kastanies border crossing.

“This border is not only a Greek border but it is also a European border and I stand here today as a European at your side… We have come here today to send a very clear statement of European solidarity and support to Greece…

“I am fully committed to mobilising all the necessary operational support to the Greek authorities.”

The President of the European Council Charles Michel said that there was no migrant crisis and this was created by Turkey.

Michel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the issue.

“The President of the European Council reiterated his support to Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. He also acknowledged Turkey’s efforts in hosting millions of refugees. The EU-Turkey Statement remains the basis of our migration partnership. It was agreed in good faith and needs continued efforts from both sides.

Reducing the current migration tensions on the borders of Europe is essential. Europe is ready to speed up support to Syrians in Turkey and their host communities.”

Michel was also cited as saying the following:

Defending his tough line on maintaining the border, Prime Minister Mitsotakis said Greece could not and would not be “blackmailed”.

“This is no longer a refugee problem,” he said. “This is a blatant attempt by Turkey to use desperate people to promote its geopolitical agenda and to divert attention from the horrible situation in Syria.”