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26 Turkish asylum-seekers, persecuted by Erdogan’s regime, land in Greece

Published: Updated:

Two fishing boats carrying 26 Turkish asylum-seekers have reached the Greek island of Chios, Greece’s coast guard said Sunday.

The group, which included children, was rescued by the Greek coast guard as it approached the shore on Saturday.

According to the local news site politischios.gr, the Turkish citizens were seeking political asylum from Greece, claiming they were being persecuted by the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Two passengers had drilled holes in the boat as it approached the island to prompt a rescue operation. The pair were later arrested.

The group was tested for coronavirus and transferred to a quarantine center in Lefkonia.

Another boat with 23 Turkish citizens seeking asylum had reached Chios three weeks ago.

Incidents of Turkish people, mainly civil servants and military personnel, reaching the Greek islands and illegally entering via the land border along the Evros River have been reported since the 2016 failed coup against Erdogan’s government.

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Greek-Turkish relations are at a boiling point after the deployment of the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis into Greek waters accompanied by Turkish warships on August 10.

The confrontation has reignited a longstanding rivalry over disputed maritime rights and gas resources between Greece and Turkey and they have begun staging competing naval drills.

Greece and Turkey were already divided on issues including migration, Byzantine heritage in Istanbul and tensions over the island of Cyprus.