KASTANIES (Greece), March 6 — Tension flared at Greece’s mainland border with Turkey early today as volleys of tear gas were fired from the Turkish side of the fence towards Greek border guards.
There has been a standoff in the border area of Kastanies since February 28, when Ankara said it would no longer hold back thousands of migrants stuck in that country under a deal brokered with the EU in 2016.
A Reuters correspondent saw Greek forces use a water cannon in an attempt to disperse people crowding at the border. It was followed by a volley of tear gas from the other side.
“(The) attacks are coordinated by drones. Apart from intimidation, these attacks are taking place from the Turkish police to help migrants cross the fence border line,” a Greek government official said.
Turkey has said any tear gas fired is in response to tear gas fired from the Greek side. “Why would Turkey fire tear gas to the Greek side of the border?” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters after visiting the border area yesterday. “Greece is firing tear gas at us, they are firing tear gas at our police stations at the border. We are responding to that.”
Both sides used tear gas at the Kastanies border post on Wednesday. Ankara has accused Greek forces of shooting dead four migrants, a charge rejected by Athens, which says Turkish forces are helping the migrants to cross the border.
Athens has called the confrontations a threat to national security and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis brought European Union leaders to the area to press his case for support to avoid a repeat of 2015, when tens of thousands of asylum seekers poured into the European Union. — Reuters