UPDATE: The Hellenic Coast Guard denies claims it deliberately tried to sink a raft carrying Syrian refugees, the group said in a statement posted on Saturday. The group said its crew was trying to rescue the boat by using a hook to draw the raft closer. Read the full statement below:
1. The Hellenic Coastguard categorically denies the articles in the foreign press, as well as the doctored audiovisual material on a foreign website, according to which a Hellenic Coastguard vessel allegedly tried to sink a boat carrying refugees. Moreover, we obviously deny any effort by members of the crew to draw near to their large vessel a small inflatable craft by using a nautical hook (that is, a tool used in accordance with international shipping technique and practices for this purpose) while a nearby Turkish coastguard vessel assisted the rescue operation by lighting and facilitating all of the actions with a spotlight.
2. We believe it to be at the very least contradictory to allege that the Hellenic Coastguard supposedly follows such practices, which are incompatible with the values of our culture and which are condemnable at a time when the Hellenic Coastguard, from early 2015 until today, has saved some 90,000 refugees from the sea in Search and Rescue operations.
3. We also categorically deny that there was an exchange of relevant dialogue between the Heads of the Coastguards of Greece and Turkey, as presented in articles in the Turkish press.
EARLIER: A Greek coast guard ship allegedly attempted to sink an inflatable raft brimming with Syrian refugees in the Aegean sea, according to a video released by the Turkish Institute of Public Diplomacy on Friday (November 20).
The video, shot by the Turkish coast guard on November 12, purportedly shows a man on board of a ship bearing Greek coast guard livery attempting to strike a raft with a long pole or lance when the refugees came alongside the vessel.
Later the refugees are seen in a half-sunken raft waving hands to Turkish coast guards and waiting to be rescued. The Turkish vessel took them aboard.
There were 58 Syrian refugees on board the raft including children, according to Turkish media.
Media reports say the video was also shown to the head of Greek coast guard, Vice Admiral Athanasios Athanasopoulos, during a high-level meeting on the plight of refugees in Ankara on Wednesday (November 18). Athanasopoulos was accompanying Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was in Turkey to attend a friendly soccer game between the two countries and discuss the migrant crisis plaguing the Mediterranean. Greek authorities were not immediately available for comment.
About 650,000 refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty have reached the EU through Greece so far this year with many risking their lives by sea. Thousands have drowned.