Erdogan accuses Greece of killing migrants crossing its border

Migrants gather in a field near Edirne, at the Turkish-Greek border. (AP pic)

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greek authorities of inhumanely treating migrants trying to cross the border, claiming that two people were killed by Greek security forces on Monday while another was seriously wounded.

Greece denied the accusation.

Erdogan’s allegations mark another high point in rising tensions with Greece since Turkey announced last week that it would no longer stand in the way if refugees and migrants it hosts seek to cross the border with Europe.

It wasn’t possible to independently verify the Turkish president’s claims on the killings.

In a tweet immediately after Erdogan’s remarks, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said: “No shots have been fired by Greek border forces against any individuals attempting to enter Greece illegally.”

Earlier on Monday, a video widely shared on social media and reported on by some media outlets purportedly showed a Syrian man who was killed on the Greek side of the border and carried back to Turkey for burial. Bloomberg wasn’t able to verify the video’s content.

Another migrant, a young Syrian boy, died after the boat he was on with others capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos.

Greece has deployed security forces along its land border with Turkey and is accusing its regional rival of orchestrating a refugee invasion of its borders. Germany’s Angela Merkel criticised Turkey for conducting policy at the expense of refugees.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in Ankara, Erdogan said it was the European Union that was failing to meet its obligations from a 2016 deal under which Turkey agreed to stem the flow of migration to the continent.

Turkey doesn’t want the funds the EU has belatedly offered to disburse to share the fiscal burden of hosting 4 million refugees, Erdogan said.

“Asylum seekers and refugees are free to leave where they are and choose the country they want to live” according to international law, Erdogan said.