Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Turkey Rebuts NATO Vessels Seeking Smugglers; Won't Allow Them in Its Waters to Nab Migrants

The AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (March 2, 2016) that NATO vessels deployed in the Aegean Sea to help stop the flow of migrants into Europe have not yet started operating in Turkish waters and are waiting for the go-ahead from alliance member Ankara.

Despite requests by the NATO operation's German command, "the Turks refused" this week to allow the vessels to enter into Turkish waters, a diplomatic source told AFP.

The unprecedented mission -- which seeks to tackle migrant smugglers -- was launched last month and aims to help the European Union (EU) cope with the worst migration crisis since World War II. At that time, Turkey had agreed to the NATO plan to monitor the migrant vessels.

 But now Turkey "is showing little or no interest" in taking back migrants picked up by the NATO vessels in the Aegean Sea as they attempt to make the perilous crossing to Greece, the diplomatic source said. One Turkish lawmaker believes President Erdogan is stalling as much as he can to retain Syrian migrants in Turkey -- even calling it blackmail by Erdogan -- in order to force the European Union to provide Turkey with more money and better benefits.

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