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Turkey has become a people smuggler: Greek govt

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has suspended new asylum applications by those illegally entering the country for one month whilst also raising the security level on the country’s borders, it was announced on Sunday by government spokesperson Stelios Petsas.

The announcement came after the emergency meeting of the Government Council on National Security (KYSEA) on Sunday chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“In recent days, Greece has suddenly come under mass, organised and coordinated pressure from the movement of populations at its eastern land and sea borders. This movement is directed and encouraged by Turkey. These actions are taking place in violation of its obligations under the EU-Turkey joint statement. Turkey, instead of controlling the migrant and refugee trafficking rings has itself become a trafficker,” Petsas said in a statement.

“The gathered individuals attempt to enter Greek territory by force, even though the Greek side has made clear that it will in no way permit any kind of passage,” Petsas noted, adding: “Due to its coordinated and mass nature, this movement is absolutely unrelated to international law on asylum, which concerns only individual cases. Under these circumstances, the current situation constitutes an active, serious, exceptional and asymmetric threat to the country’s national security.”

He said that the individuals gathered at the border were being used by Turkey as pawns, in order to exercise diplomatic pressure, adding that Greece “will unswervingly exercise its sovereign right and constitutional obligation to protect its integrity.”

For the above reasons, the spokesperson said, the KYSEA meeting made the following decisions:

  1. To step up measures to guard the eastern land and sea borders of the country by the security forces and armed forces to the maximum level in order to prevent all illegal entry into the country.
  2. The temporary suspension for one month from the day the decision is taken of the submission of new asylum applications by those that illegally enter the country.
  3. The immediate return, where possible, of those illegally entering Greek territory to their country of origin, without any record.
  4. A request to Frontex for the deployment of a RABIT operation to guard the country’s external borders, which are also the borders of the EU.
  5. The immediate notification of the EU foreign ministers’ council of the above decision and the invoking of article 78, paragraph 3 of the EU Treaty so that temporary measures for the support of the Hellenic Republic may be taken to deal with the emergency situation caused by the sudden influx of third-country nationals, in the framework of solidarity between EU member-states.

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