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Turkish Demands Obstructing NATO Mission in Aegean, Says Greece | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Greek PM Tsipras meets NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the Maximos Mansion in Athens

ATHENS, April 22 – Only in March did NATO send its ship into Greek and Turkish waters in the Aegean, however the NATO mission is facing obstacle in the Aegean Sea due to Turkish demands that are being posed, noting that the missions are aimed at combating the migrants and refugees smuggling into Europe, as stated by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

On Thursday, it said that the number of migrants and refugees that are crossing the sea from Turkey was decreasing considerably, howsoever smugglers can quickly change routes and authorities must not reduce security efforts prematurely.

Part of the obstacle imposed is not having full operational access in the region, according to Tsipras while speaking after a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Athens. The latter added that “Greece will undertake every effort so that NATO’s mission contributes to the solution of the crisis. And unfortunately it’s clear that the obstacles .. arise from Turkey’s unilateral demands and positions. Demands and positions which unfortunately are also expressed through a rise in activities which violate our airspace.”

Europe signed an agreement with Turkey last month to close off the main route into Europe for more than a million people, most fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

“Our collective efforts are making a real difference. There’s been a significant reduction in the number of people crossing the Aegean from Turkey to Greece,” Stoltenberg said. “… We need to stay engaged.”