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Greece expresses concern over asylum seekers seen on Turkish coast: report

A lifebelt is seen on the beach of the port of Lesbos island on April 16, 2015. Since Greece bolstered controls along its land border with Turkey, along the Evros River, illegal immigrants have turned to the maritime route between Turkey and the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, notably Lesbos, Samos, Kos and Chios. 2015 started with a major increase in the number of Aegean crossings: 10,445 against 2,863 in the same period of 2014, according to the Greek port police. AFP PHOTO / ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP PHOTO / ANGELOS TZORTZINIS

Authorities in Greece expressed concern on Monday that migrants and refugees are gathering on Turkey’s coast with plans to cross the Aegean Sea to Greek islands despite movement restrictions in both countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, The Associated Press reported.

Daily clashes between border police and asylum seekers broke out at the land border between Turkey and Greece in March after the Turkish government said it would no longer stop people from trying to enter Europe.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said authorities now “have seen signs of activity” on the Turkish coast.

“We will … continue to do whatever it takes to defend our sovereign rights and guard the borders of Greece and Europe,” he said.

The Greek islands last year were the European Union’s busiest entry point for illegal migration, according to European border agency Frontex.

Turkish authorities previously inhibited migration to Europe in return for Syrian refugee aid as part of a deal with the EU.

Greek Defense Ministry officials said military personnel have been guarding the country’s land and sea borders since Turkey accused the EU of not abiding by its commitments and said it would no longer deter people headed to Europe.

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