By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey on Wednesday denounced Greece’s illegal pushback policy and the EU’s negligence regarding the situation.
Omer Celik, the spokesperson for the Justice and Development (AK) Party, said Greece’s illegal pushback of migrants is the main reason behind the recent rise in migrant deaths in the Aegean Sea. He accused the European countries of ignoring it.
“Greece’s persistent pushback policy, which is facilitated by the EU’s Frontex (border and coast guard agency) led to migrants to change their route to more dangerous and longer Italian route,” he told reporters following the party’s executive board meeting in the capital Ankara.
Turkey and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
- Russia-Ukraine tension
Regarding the ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine, Celik said Turkey attaches great importance to peace and stability in the Black Sea.
“We hope that a ground, which would preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine and clear concerns of both NATO and Russia, will be established,” he said.
Russia has recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border. The move has prompted concerns among NATO allies that Russia could be planning another military offensive against its ex-Soviet neighbor.
The US and its European allies are accusing Russia of trying to destabilize the country by providing military support to the separatist forces in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
- Turkey-Armenia normalization
Also addressing the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia, Celik said Turkey’s special envoy Serdar Kilic will soon meet with his Armenian counterpart to discuss the process.
If things went well with the normalization of the relations, which Azerbaijan has consented to and supported, Turkey and Armenia would resume charter flights as one of the steps of the process, he said.
“We hope that Armenia would give up with expansionist policies and act as a part of the mechanism that would contribute to stability in the southern Caucasus,” Celik remarked.
On Dec. 15, Turkey appointed Kilic, a former ambassador to the US, as its special envoy to discuss steps for normalization with Armenia. Three days later, Armenia also appointed its special representative for dialogue with Turkey, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Ruben Rubinyan.
- Delayed Libyan presidential election
On the latest developments in Libya, including the postponement of the presidential polls previously scheduled to be held on Dec. 24, Celik reiterated that Turkey supports just, free and legitimate elections which would take the country out of instability.
“Turkey expects whoever emerges victorious from the elections to represent the whole country,” he added.
On Monday, the Libyan parliament proposed postponing the country’s presidential elections by six months.
Libyan rival parties have been in disagreement over the voting timetable for the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously or one after the other.
Libyans hope that the upcoming elections will contribute to ending an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.