Angelos Stangos ANGELOS STANGOS

Ankara using refugee flows to hurt Greece

COMMENT

TAGS: Turkey, Migration, Security, Politics

Costas Karamanlis’ recent talks in Thessaloniki and London have triggered a lot of discussion. This was only to be expected given the suddenness of his reappearance; a lot was written and said about the matter, and many questions were raised. Meanwhile, the former conservative prime minister’s supporters were delighted by his presence on the political scene.

But according to reliable sources, nothing shady or complicated is going on. Karamanlis is not trying to become president, nor is he seeking to form a new grouping within the New Democracy party; he is simply concerned at developments regarding Greek-Turkish relations and the refugee/immigration crisis, as he tried to highlight during his talks.

Hopefully Karamanlis’ actions will serve as a wake-up call for the political class regarding the gravity and urgency of the matter. Recent statements and comments from the Turkish side prove that Greek-Turkish relations are closely intertwined with the refugee/immigration crisis.

Officials from the Turkish ministries of National Defense and Foreign Affairs are spreading propaganda, publicly accusing Greece of crimes such as sinking vessels carrying immigrants and refugees, the forced return of thousands of people and the seizure of belongings. They have also accused Greece of injustice toward the minority in Thrace, and of having systematically annihilated Turks and Muslims during and after the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, with the dual purpose of degrading Greece’s image internationally and distracting the eyes of the world from the fact that the flows moving toward Greece are constantly being intentionally increased.

These facts are pieces of a puzzle revealing the scope of Ankara’s secret strategy against Greece, and they essentially reinforce the belief that Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats of blackmail, seemingly directed at the European Union, about releasing millions of refugees and immigrants to swamp Europe if Brussels pressures him or refuses to finance him, are in fact directed at Greece.

The threats to Europe are empty; Erdogan knows very well that the refugees and immigrants can’t travel elsewhere in Europe because the land borders are completely closed, and Italy and the Dalmatian Coast are too far from Turkey for their often flimsy boats to reach without being intercepted. Hence Greece will be submerged under these constantly increasing flows. Athens will not be able to handle the issue; it will undermine Greece’s social cohesion, and that’s only the beginning.

The events described above lead us to the conclusion that Ankara’s primary target is indeed Greece, and not Europe. It is no coincidence that Turkey wants to include the refugee/immigration crisis in bilateral negotiations.

NATO is, as French President Emmanuel Macron stated, “brain-dead”; US President Donald Trump remains as unpredictable as ever; the status quo in America relentlessly seeks rivalry with Russia in order to keep Germany and the rest of Europe at bay; Berlin remains somewhat adrift, and the members of the EU are deeply reluctant to share the burden of the refugee/immigration crisis, and they certainly do not want to bother Turkey.

During his talks, Karamanlis seemed to be on the same page on the matter, regarding both the scope and gravity of the threat Greece is facing, and the realization that the country will have to deal with the issue without any external help or support whatsoever. He is not the first to say it; only now, it must be officially known that Turkey’s primary desire is to ambush Greece in order to provoke its fall.

So what should Athens do? First, forget about diplomatic ethics and their political correctness and increase the pressure on NATO and the EU, and, second, get its ducks in a row and try to organize itself. Here’s hoping…

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