Angelos Stangos ANGELOS STANGOS

Deterrence is the only way to go

COMMENT

TAGS: Migration, Turkey, EU

There is no doubt that the events unfolding on the Greek-Turkish border at Evros and in the Aegean Sea these days are something completely different to the refugee and migration crisis experienced by Greece and Europe in the past few years.

What is going on right now is a military operation – where the weapons are the poor devils trying to escape war and poverty – launched by the Turkish government in order to wriggle out of a dead end resulting from its own arrogance and to fulfill certain self-confessed and unexpressed goals.

The evidence is overwhelming and arises from the rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other government officials, from the propaganda and lies they are spreading and also from the support being provided by Turkish state services such as border and coast guards to those being encouraged to “invade” Greece.

The good news is that Europe’s institutions have realized what is really going on, as evidenced by the recent visit to Evros and the statements made by the heads of the European Commission, Council and Parliament, and by the president of Croatia, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency. They acknowledged that Greece’s borders are also Europe’s borders, they accepted the policy being implemented by the Greek government to defend them and they announced specific measures to help the country in this effort.

On the other hand, it is clear that a unified European Union policy on migration is still a long way off and that every member-state will continue to act according to its own interests. Only a handful have stepped up to take in some of the refugees who are trapped in Greece and they are clearly not prepared to help hold the border beyond whatever assistance supplied by Frontex. In other words, they may publicly hail Greece as the shield defending Europe’s border, but they’re basically treating it like a dumping ground for the refugees and migrants they don’t want.

However, the main conclusion that emerges from all that has been said and done so far and also by the actions of various governments, and especially Germany, is that the European Union continues to believe that a system of exchanges, in the sense of economic support, is still the best way to reign in Erdogan. Both the United States and the European Union, moreover, are justifying Erdogan’s position in Idlib in Syria by continuing to oppose Russia and the government of Bashar Al Assad. They also choose to ignore the support that Ankara gives and for years has been giving to Islamist extremists.

Greece has every reason to be worried by this stance. The creation of a camp for migrants (Erdogan took them in, posing as a leader of the Sunni world) on the border with Greece, the constant provocations and threats against our country and fears that Ankara may seek exchanges from the Europeans in order to fulfill its expansionist “Blue Homeland” plan are all cause for concern.

It is absolutely vital for Greece to continue safeguarding its borders from a mass invasion of migrants and refugees, but what it ultimately comes down to is how long it will be able to hold the front without real support. A policy of deterrence with the essential participation of Europe is the only way to go.

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