TURKEY – Turkey says on Friday it will shut its border with Greece to ensure security, amid fears that a massive refugee influx would spill across its territory and spark a rebellion.
The decision comes after Turkey last week deployed troops on the border with the European country of Greece and the European Union on the pretext that its troops were “on the move”.
But a Greek official said Friday that the Turkish military had not yet crossed the border, which is controlled by Greece.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it had also deployed a naval vessel and troops on its borders with Greece and Croatia.
It said that since the border has not been closed, the military would not use force and that it would not move.
The Greek government, meanwhile, condemned Turkey’s move.
“Turkey has a right to be in the European area, but it should not try to disrupt our democratic processes,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has blamed the influx on Europe’s refusal to take in more refugees and has urged the bloc to accept more asylum seekers.
Turkey has been struggling to cope with an influx of migrants, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, fleeing a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.
Turkey, one of the main transit countries for migrants to Europe, has become a flashpoint for a debate over the refugee crisis that has triggered protests across the continent.
Turkey said in March that it will deport migrants arriving on the Turkish island of Kos, citing security concerns.
The UN Refugee Agency says it has documented more than 200 cases of people being forcibly returned to countries where they have not been able to secure a place to stay.