04:02 GMT08 March 2021
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    NATO forces are expected to watch the smuggling boats when they start to arrive in the Aegean Sea, according to Greece's New Democracy Party member Makis Voridis.

    VIENNA (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — NATO has already started a mission to counter criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe across the Aegean Sea, Greece's New Democracy Party member Makis Voridis, who is a former minister for infrastructure, transport and networks, told Sputnik on Friday.

    On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO member states had coordinated the details of the military alliance’s operation in the Aegean Sea aimed at curbing the influx of migrants into Europe from the Middle East.

    "The operation by NATO [is] already taking place. They have started but for the time being we don't have specific results," Voridis said.

    According to Voridis, the NATO forces are expected to watch the smuggling boats when they start to arrive in the Aegean Sea. The NATO personnel will communicate the information to Turkish patrol boats so that they could return the migrants back to Turkey.

    "We [will] have to see how this is going to work," the Greek politician added.

    The alliance has deployed several ships of the Standing Maritime Group 2 to the Aegean Sea to tackle refugee smuggling. According to Stoltenberg, the group should conduct reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities in the area and maintain contact with EU border agency Frontex.

    According to the International Organization for Migration, over 78,000 migrants or refugees have crossed into Greece via sea routes since the beginning of 2016.


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    refugees, NATO, Makis Voridis, Aegean Sea, Greece
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