NATO vessels that have been deployed in the Aegean Sea to help stem the flow of refugees on to the Greek islands and ultimately into Europe have not yet started operating in Turkish waters, as was previously agreed by all parties.
Despite requests from NATO’s German command , “the Turks refused” to allow NATO vessels into their territorial waters, according to a news release from AFP.
AFP said that a second diplomat confirmed the Turks’ refusal.
The plan that was originally agreed was for the NATO force to conduct reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance and to provide information to Greece, Turkey and the EU’s border agency Frontex so that they — not NATO — can deal with the traffickers.
Turkey meanwhile, according to the AFP report “is showing little to no interest” in taking back migrants picked up by the NATO vessels at sea as they attempt to make the perilous crossing to Greece, the source said.
Plans for the mission were first laid out in a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on February 8. Three days later, defense ministers from NATO’s member states gave their go-ahead to start preparing the operation, and to the immediate deployment of three vessels in the Aegean.