Turkey’s foreign ministry has accused Greece of violating the fundamental rights of refugees and migrants and also of increasing tension along the countries’ shared border instead of engaging in dialogue, Al Jazeera reported.
Athens recently criticized remarks by Turkish authorities suggesting that the border might be opened to refugees once the coronavirus pandemic has eased.
Expecting an influx of refugees, Greece also said it had started mobilizing forces to boost defenses along its border with Turkey.
The border area was the scene of clashes in March after Turkey said it would no longer prevent refugees and migrants from reaching the European Union.
“Greece is misleading public opinion by manipulating the facts for petty political considerations,” Hami Aksoy, the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement on Thursday.
“The fact that Greece openly violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of refugees has been documented in reports by human rights organizations. It is shameful that people who engage in unjust treatment at the border call Turkey ‘barbaric’.”
On Wednesday Greek police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos told the AFP news agency that an additional 400 police would be sent to the northeastern Evros River border region “as a precautionary measure.”
The deployment will add to hundreds of officers already in the area, and more are expected to be sent in the coming days.
In March skirmishes between the Greek police and refugees and migrants went on for days, with the latter trying to cross the border as Greek riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at them.
Turkish authorities evacuated those people almost a month later, and Greek state TV said a makeshift camp where they were staying was set on fire, amid fears of a coronavirus contagion.
On Tuesday Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos told Skai TV that Athens was aware of “certain statements that suggest we will face pressure on our borders again, especially our land border.”
After the surge in March, Athens said it would extend a border fence in the area, a move that has created a new dispute with Ankara.