Turkey poised to send 3,000 refugees to Greece every day, intelligence officials warn

Thousands of dinghies and motorboats are reported to have amassed along the Turkish coast

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The Independent Online

The Turkish government has a secret plan to allow 3,000 refugees to sail to Greece every day, intelligence officials have claimed.

Greek analysts claim thousands of dinghies and motorboats have massed along the Turkish coast as the refugee deal agreed between Ankara and Brussels looks set to unravel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to open the borders if the EU continued to block talks on the country’s accession to the union. 

The European Parliament voted to temporarily halt membership talks amid concerns about the brutal crackdown on dissent in the country following an attempted military coup in July. 

Mr Erdogan warned: "If you go any further, these border gates will be opened. Neither me nor my people will be affected by these dry threats. It wouldn't matter if all of you approved the vote".

The deal reached in March meant any refugee who arrived on Italian or Greek shores would be sent back to Turkey in exchange for EU member countries accepting another refugee from a Turkish camp on a “one for one” basis

Ankara will also received aid money to help it care for the refugees within its borders, visa free travel for its citizens and the speeding up of membership talks.

But according to Greek newspaper Proto Thema, Ankara has given up on hope of Brussels living up to its side of the deal and could start allowing the refugees to flee “within a matter of weeks”.

Greek intelligence expert Athanassios Drougas told The Times:  “No one is underestimating Mr Erdogan and his unpredictability these days. 

“These plans, along with explicit threats that the Turkish president has made in recent weeks, have Greece’s joint chiefs of staff seriously concerned.

“They are fearful and they have told the political leadership here that if Turkey opens the floodgates yet again, Greece, in its current state of financial and social distress, will not be able to withstand the shock. It will spell war or wreak the havoc of one.

“With Europe in a mess, Mr Erdogan feels he has a free hand in trying to blackmail the bloc using the refugee crisis as leverage.”

Over a million refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq, arrived in Europe last year with many coming via the Aegean and Mediterranean seas or overland through Turkey.

Currently more than 60,000 refugees are living in refugee camps in Greece after several Balkan countries sealed their borders. 

Many remain stuck on islands in the Aegean with frequent fires and disorder breaking out in the large, unsanitary camps. 

On Thursday, a woman and her young son were killed in a fire caused by cooking gas canister at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos – home to refugees facing deportation back to Turkey – while two others were hospitalised with severe burns.