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    The Turkish government wants to prevent Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen from landing on the Greek island of Lesbos on March 6, arguing that the region is a demilitarized zone, which is closed to any military transport, Greece's Skai TV reported.

    Turkey Objects to German Defense Minister Landing on Greek Island

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    The Turkish government wants to prevent Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen from landing on the Greek island of Lesbos on March 6, arguing that the region is a demilitarized zone, which is closed to any military transport, Greece's Skai TV reported.

    Ankara, according to Skai TV, has also refused to allow the German minister to visit the Turkish coast to assess the situation with refugees and human traffickers. Germany has received 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015 alone – a record for any European country – and is trying to enlist Ankara's support in helping to curb immigration from the Middle East to the EU.

    The media outlet described Turkey's decision as a "provocative action". 

    After visiting Lesbos, Ursula von der Leyen is expected to take a NATO helicopter to the German supply ship Bonn, which participates in the bloc's mission to tackle migrant smugglers in the Aegean Sea.

    Refugees and migrants massed onto an inflatable boat reach Mytilene, northern island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on February 17, 2016
    © AFP 2019 / ARIS MESSINIS
    Refugees and migrants massed onto an inflatable boat reach Mytilene, northern island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on February 17, 2016

    A similar incident took place in February when Turkey refused to allow Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to land on Rhodes for refueling en route to Iran. The military aircraft had to change course after Ankara announced that it would not let the plane into its airspace if it landed in the demilitarized area.

    The aircraft then reached Iran by flying over Egypt, Cyprus, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

    The Aegean Sea islands have been a major source of tension between Greece and Turkey since the 1970s, bringing the two countries to the brink of military confrontation in 1987 and 1996.

    Topic:
    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

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    Tags:
    refugee crisis, demilitarized zone, Alexis Tsipras, Ursula von der Leyen, Lesbos, Aegean Sea, Turkey, Germany
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