The government of Greece is preparing to counter “unsubstantiated” claims on its handling of migrants by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Thursday.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to respond to Erdoğan’s claims in a speech at the UNGA on Friday, it said.
Athens is set to “expose the malicious nature of the statements” by the Turkish leader while comprehensively presenting the positions of Athens, the newspaper cited Mitsotakis, in response to Erdoğan’s remarks.
During his speech at the UNGA on Tuesday, Erdoğan accused Greece of persecuting migrants in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, calling on the long-time rival country to respond to Ankara’s calls for cooperation, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“Greece is turning the Aegean into a cemetery for migrants,” the Turkish leader said.
For years, migrants have been among the leading sources of tension between Turkey and Greece. Ankara has frequently blamed Greece of engaging in violent and unlawful pushbacks against refugees, saying the acts are a crime against humanity, a charge Athens denies.
Greece is not intimidated “by the gibberish and the unsubstantiated things said from the podium of the UN General Assembly,’’ according to government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou, who described Erdoğan’s speech as an “unprecedented attempt to spread fake news and vulgar propaganda.”
Mitsotakis, in a meeting on the sidelines of UNGA with Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, briefed his Israeli counterpart “on the extreme aggressive rhetoric of the Turkish political leadership and its unacceptable claims that challenge Greek sovereignty,” Kathimerini said.