NEWS

Kabul brings Athens, Ankara closer

Developments in Afghanistan add another complication to already burdened gov’t agenda

kabul-brings-athens-ankara-closer

With the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, an additional complication has been added to the already heavily burdened agenda of the government which has pre-emptively placed the country on standby at all levels in light of a possible new wave of refugees and migrants to Greece. This includes the preparations on the Evros land border and the Aegean sea border which were initiated after the extraordinary meeting last week of the country’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA.

In addition, it has initiated diplomatic activity at the European Union level, while contact was also made with Ankara, which could be a key to developments. This led to a telephone conversation on Friday between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“There was a discussion in a good atmosphere… There is an understanding of the whole situation and there were clear explanations from the Greek side – that is, to support the countries close to Afghanistan so that people can return to their homes when the situation improves,” government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou said on Saturday, adding, “We are vigilant not to allow anyone to instrumentalize the crisis in Afghanistan.”

Turkey, he stressed, does not want flows either, noting that Greece has shielded its borders. “There is no way we can have scenes like 2015,” he said, referring to the migrant crisis six years ago.

Mitsotakis’ assessment is that the threat of a refugee crisis, but also climate change, which resulted in the recent catastrophic fires in Greece and Turkey, can bring the two countries closer. 

Athens has made it clear it understands the role that Turkey can play in the developments in Afghanistan as a Muslim country, while also acknowledging that it cannot become a “European refugee camp.”

Moreover, Mitsotakis pointed out that Athens wants to help Ankara in the area of its relations with the EU, as long as tensions between the two countries are not sparked.

Athens expects that a clear picture of the trajectory of developments will probably emerge in a period of one to two months, as, at this point, critical variables remain unknown, not least the attitude of the Taliban and whether they will follow a policy of persecution, triggering a wave of dissidents fleeing the country.