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Greece and Turkey: The Migrant Situation

By RCCPF — last modified Sep 14, 2015 12:19 PM
Useful advice from The RCC Pilotage Foundation to cruisers sailing in the waters between Greece and Turkey.

Published: 2015-09-07 23:00:00
Countries: Greece , Turkey

See also comment from a cruiser in Lesvos (Mitilini) about the situation there at bottom of page.

There are some 2.5 million refugees from Syria in Turkey, and many of these have travelled to the Aegean coast hoping to be able to cross to Greece and then to Europe. The Area Commander of the Turkish Coastguard says: 'The view of the Coastguard is quite clear.  Attempts to exit Turkey and enter Greece without going through the proper channels is an illegal activity.  If any vessel, whether commercial or private, takes on board any such person then that vessel is itself acting illegally, by extension.  Great care is therefore needed by any vessel which is in the vicinity of vessels which may have migrants aboard. There is nightly traffic of migrants trying to get to Greece from Turkey.'

There is a greatly increased level of activity by the Turkish coastguard and the Turkish navy in the channels between Turkey and the Greek Islands.  Small craft are liable to be stopped and inspected; foreign registered recreational yachts tend to be recognised as such and left alone, maybe subject to a radio check.

The easiest way to report an incident may be to phone a marina and pass the buck to them.  Mobile phone coverage is excellent throughout Turkey, and marinas normally answer and have English speakers readily available.  Alternatively it is suggested that the quickest way may be to phone 158, which would be connected directly to the Coastguard.

Transfers between Greece and Turkey.

All these problems mean that it is no longer possible to slip between Greece and Turkey without formally clearing out and in - which can be expensive and time-consuming.  It is best to stay on one side or the other until you have to cross over.

In Turkey, where regulations are generally more strictly applied than in Greece, there continues to be an expectation that yacht owners clearing in or out should use a registered agent, with concomitant additional costs. It is suggested that Didim is avoided as a port of entry - there are no officials on site, it is slow and expensive.

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