Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has highlighted the need to increase naval patrols in the Aegean Sea in a request to Nato, following a threat by the Turkish government to send more migrants into Greece, AFP reported on Thursday, October 10th.
In his statement to Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, Mitsotakis explained, “I asked the secretary-general and the alliance and member states to strengthen their presence... in the Aegean Sea with more ships."
He then went on to state, "We ask...for the mission to be expanded to the south Aegean so we can cover the full scope of our country's maritime borders," adding that he would bring the issue before the Nato summit in December.
Earlier on Thursday, October 10th, a threat was made by the Turkish president to direct millions of refugees to Europe if they continue to criticise and condemn Turkey's ongoing military aggression in Syria, with 70,000 migrants and refugees adding immense pressure on the Greek island.
Nato has a total of six ships currently navigating the northern Aegean to thoroughly track incoming migrant boats and warn the coastguards of Greece and Turkey, in addition to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).
Stoltenberg has requested more ships to join the fleet; however, any additional forces would require a consensus between Nato members. “We are sharing information. It's not our mandate to stop the boats," he added, according to AFP.
The Nato later tweeted on Thursday that “our deployment in the Aegean helps curb human smuggling,” adding that “we should address together the violence & instability which are the root causes of the crisis.”
On Wednesday, October 9th, Stoltenberg cautioned the Turkish authorities regarding their ongoing operation in northern Syria, tweeting, “I count on Turkey to act with restraint & ensure that the gains we have made in the fight against ISIS are not jeopardised.” He also promised to discuss the situation with the Turkish president.