Turkish authorities have claimed to have intercepted more than 200 migrants on their territory in the past 24 hours, including around 135 from the Aegean Coast Guard, and have reiterated their criticism of Greece for its migration management.
Security sources cited by the Turkish state news agency Anatolia said the Coast Guard rescued more than 140 people in the Aegean Sea, including 35 people whose boats were allegedly pushed back into Turkish waters from Athens.
In addition, more than 60 migrants were intercepted by security forces in an operation in Antalya province where authorities were looking for several people smugglers. The migrants were turned over to the immigration authorities to analyze their situation.
Turkey has brought serious charges against Greece in recent months, accusing Athens of illegally evicting ships arriving from Turkish coasts from its waters. The Greek government awarded Turkey the “safe country” category last week, so that people from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia can no longer apply for asylum in the country if they enter through Turkish territory.
In March 2016, the European Union (EU) and Turkey agreed that all migrants arriving on the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean will be relocated to Turkey if their asylum applications are rejected.
Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have increased in recent months as Greece and Turkey lead a maritime dispute over hydrocarbon exploration in the region. The two countries are also at odds over Cyprus.