Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday accused the Greek prime minister of telling “lies” after Athens accused Ankara of “instrumentalizing migration,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Ankara and Athens are often at loggerheads over migration, with the NATO allies accusing each other of failing to honor a deal to curb the flow of migrants passing through Turkey to Europe.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday said Greece intercepted boats that came from Turkey, denying claims of pushbacks by Greek authorities.
“So rather to put the blame on Greece you should put it on those who have been instrumentalizing migration systematically,” Mitsotakis said.
Erdoğan accused Mitsotakis of telling “lies” and “acting dishonestly” during a televised news conference with visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“It is Greece condemning refugees to their deaths in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas,” Erdoğan told reporters, adding Turkey had “all the documents” to prove his claims.
“I have no idea how Greece would handle it if Turkey opened the doors” to migrants attempting to reach Europe, as it briefly did during an escalation of the dispute early last year, Erdoğan said.
Turkey signed a deal worth six billion euros with the European Union in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants after more than a million people fled to Europe in 2015.
Turkey is home to around 3.6 million refugees from the conflict in Syria and is often used as a transit country to Europe by migrants from countries including Afghanistan.