EU Parliament leader demands to warn Greece against illegal pushbacks

EU Parliament leader demands to warn Greece against illegal pushbacks

Greek PM Mitsotakis’s political group tried to block letter asking EU Commission to remind Greece on respect of court rulings, an EU source says

By Agnes Szucs

BRUSSELS (AA) – The centre-right political group of the Greek governing party tried to block in the European Parliament a letter reminding Greece to respect international court rulings against illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border, Anadolu Agency learned on Thursday.

The chair of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, has written a letter to EU Commissioners in charge of migration and human rights.

Lopez Aguilar reminds the EU executive body of reports about “dozens of persons seeking international protection pushed back from Greece to Turkey through the land border area of the Evros River.”

The letter points out that the “situation has been escalating during the last month” and reports raise significant concerns that “loss of life, inhumane treatment, denial of access to the asylum procedure and refoulement are taking place at the EU’s external borders with the involvement of the Greek police authorities.”

Lopez Aguilar also warns the European Commission that it has “the duty and the responsibility to condemn any use of violence” and to ensure that Greece implements the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, instructing Greek authorities to provide immediate humanitarian and medical assistance for asylum-seekers.

The European People Party, the political group that has Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s party, the New Democracy belongs, has tried to block the letter with a committee vote, an EU official familiar with the file told Anadolu Agency.

“The move did not succeed and the letter will be sent to the European Commission by tomorrow at the latest,” the source said.

Following the lawsuit of human rights organizations, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights has recently issued 13 interim measures instructing Greek authorities to provide food, water, and adequate medical treatment for asylum-seekers stranded on the Turkish-Greek border near the Evros river.

Many of the migrants have reported pushbacks.

Human rights advocates and leading media outlets have frequently reported illegal pushbacks and other rights breaches by Greek authorities violating EU and international law.

Besides seaborne pushbacks, Greek border forces are also accused of apprehending and forcibly expelling migrants who manage to cross into the country by land.

In February, at least 19 irregular migrants were found frozen to death near the Turkish-Greek border after being pushed back to Türkiye by Greece.

Turkish officials criticized Athens for the inhumane and degrading treatment of irregular migrants, saying those who were found dead had been stripped of their clothes and shoes by the Greek border guards.

Greece denied any involvement.

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