Greece pulls in Turkey denied ship with migrants

Some 400 migrants have arrived on the Greek island of Kos, who were picked up by the Greek coast guard after the cargo ship they were on came into trouble last Friday. The Turkish Coast Guard, according to the Greeks, refused to help the ship in need, ignoring a request from Athens and the international agreements made on it.

The ship, with mostly young Afghans on board, sailed under the Turkish flag and, according to the Greek Coast Guard, headed for Italy from a Turkish port. This happened โ€œclearly with the knowledge of the Turkish Coast Guard,โ€ said the Greek Minister for Maritime Affairs. The boat was unlucky and drifted steerlessly in the international waters between Greece and Turkey.

Greece asked the Turkish Coast Guard to return the boat to Turkey, but that request was refused. Yesterday, the Greek Coast Guard dragged the vessel to a port on the island of Kos.

Smuggling

Six people on board are suspected of engaging in human smuggling and have been taken by police for questioning. The remaining passengers are quarantined and are being tested for the coronavirus.

The EU and Turkey agreed 5.5 years ago that Turkey should take back migrants who cross illegally to the EU from Turkish territory and do not qualify for asylum. Turkey, which already has 3 million migrants within its borders, is increasingly dissatisfied with this agreement, and regularly opens the border to put political pressure on the EU.

Many EU countries fear a large influx of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, as the Taliban has taken over power there.