Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the Coast Guard to prevent migrants in Turkey from crossing the Aegean Sea, according to the Coast Guard on Twitter.
“By order of the President… no immigrants will be given permission to cross the Aegean Sea because of the risks involved,” the Coast Guard wrote in his Friday tweet.
He added, “The approach of not interfering to prevent migrants from leaving Turkey is still supported, except for those who want to leave by sea because of the risks.”
On Thursday, the Coast Guard announced the rescue of 97 migrants who were in danger, accusing Greece of “emptying their three boats from the air and leaving them drifting, naked and drowning.”
Ankara and Athens regularly exchange accusations of immigrants.
The Turks denounce the brutality of the Greeks towards migrants, while the Greeks accuse the Turks of pushing migrants and even of helping, them migrate to Greece.
Thousands of immigrants have been trying to cross the land borders between Turkey and Greece since the Turkish president announced on February 29 that it would halt compliance with the 2016 agreement, which stipulates keeping migrants in Turkey in exchange for European financial aid.
Officially, Ankara has been protesting that this aid has not been sufficient to meet the cost of establishing four million migrants and refugees, most of whom are Syrians, for years on its soil.
The burden of migrants has increased with the Syrian Army attack since December on Idlib, the last stronghold of the opposition factions in Syria, causing a humanitarian catastrophe with the displacement of nearly a million people.
The Europeans have proposed an additional billion euros in aid to Ankara, but the latter has refused.
European countries see this as political blackmail by Turkey to obtain Western support for its operations in Syria.