The European Commission does not challenge Greece’s claims that it had nothing to do with the shooting of migrants at the Turkish border four months ago, its president Ursula von der Leyen indicated on Thursday.
Writing in a letter to several MEPs, von der Leyen said the Commission has been in close contact with Greek authorities, who “firmly maintained that no such incident was caused by actions of the Greek forces.”
During the incident in March, one migrant was killed and five others injured while trying to enter the EU at the border between Turkey and Greece. Reporters and researchers have since found evidence that the fatal bullet was shot from a Greek firearm.
But von der Leyen said that Frontex, the EU’s border agency, “did not receive any serious incident report that would substantiate the allegations in this regard,” while personnel deployed by Frontex had “not witnessed the use of live ammunition by the Greek law enforcement authorities.”
Tineke Strik, a Dutch MEP with the European Free Alliance, who published the letter on Twitter, denounced von der Leyen’s explanation as unsatisfactory.
“President von der Leyen … simply takes the denial by the Greek government as truth, despite clear evidence that asylum seekers were killed,” Strik said, adding: “The Commission shouldn’t defend governments, but hold those responsible accountable.”
Amnesty International said in early April that more than one migrant had been shot and killed while attempting to cross into Greece from Turkey.
The European Council on Refugees and Exiles, an alliance of NGOs, also condemned von der Leyen’s reaction.
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