Greece is winning the unorthodox war that has been declared on it by Turkey. The borders are holding; European institutions and EU member-states are standing by the Greeks, confirming that these are Europe’s borders; the domestic front is united; even refugees and migrants are coming to realize that they have been had by the cynical Turkish president. In success, however, danger lurks. Having failed to blackmail the EU, Turkey is now throwing its weight into the effort to undermine Greece’s image, to isolate it from its partners, to create problems on the domestic front.
Turkey’s policy depends on whether we Greeks will meet the challenge at our border without losing the values that make our society so different from the one taking shape under Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mass migration causes tension in any society. The Turks know this well: for some time now, Syrian refugees, who were initially welcomed as “Muslim brothers,” have been under attack by Turkish nationalists. Clashes between citizens and police on Greek islands, also, show that hospitality can run out when problems grow and solutions are not visible.
The just struggle to guard our borders not so much against the threat posed by victims of war and poverty but by an increasingly belligerent Turkey, inspires sentiments of patriotism and national unity. But it also encourages criminal acts by some extremist groups and individuals who attack refugees and migrants, members of non-governmental organizations and journalists. This is what Turkey depends on: it will continue to push people toward the border with Greece in the hope that it will provoke brutal reactions from the Greeks, or, through the increasing influence of extremist groups, will divide the Greeks. The propaganda trap is evident. From the continuous torrent of lies from its president and top officials, to the trolls on social media, Turkey wants to encourage brutal actions by the Greeks. It is our duty to resist. Our state and society must reaffirm at every moment that, despite our troubles, we guard borders of a civilization that is based on justice, on the value and dignity of every human being. These internal borders give meaning to external ones.