The United Nations, European Union and NATO have all remained silent as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government coordinates the largest mass movement of migrants to date to Greece’s borders. The current estimated number of 3.5 million migrants and refugees in Turkey is more than one-third of the population of Greece and three and a half times the number of migrants and refugees Turkey has allowed to pass through to Greece each year since 2013.
Erdogan’s opening of Turkey’s borders and support of the unmitigated flow of migrants and refugees to Greece by land and by sea in unprecedented numbers is a cruel and inhumane act exacerbating an already untenable situation and must be immediately stopped.
Greeks have always shown incredible compassion and humanity for refugees throughout history, but lacking the resources, manpower and capabilities to restore order, guarantee the safety, health and security of its citizens, well-being of migrants and refugees, and protect Greek sovereignty, Greece has no choice but to say no to this latest assault on its borders.
It’s time for the United States, NATO, and Europe to rein in Erdogan and his destabilizing acts that threaten peace and stability in the region. The European nations need to take decisive action to contain Erdogan’s acts of aggression and inhumanity and support Greece’s defense of Europe’s southeastern frontier.
The US Congress and Senate’s passing of “The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019,” recently signed into law, is a notable step in the proper direction in affirming the importance of the US-Greece-Cyprus-Israel strategic partnership, but lacks the authorization to allocate the resources and support required to effectively back this strategic partnership.
As such, the urgency to transform this bill into a meaningful joint US and European effort of the scale needed to support Greece and Cyprus in upgrading their military forces, coast guards, border protection forces, and technologies to protect Europe’s borders, security, energy security, economic interests, and freedom has never been greater. Turkey’s actions must be addressed decisively and immediately.
* Commander Demetries Grimes is a former US naval officer, aviator and Secretary of Defense executive fellow. He has served as naval attache to Greece and Israel, deputy commander of the US base on Crete, and adviser to NATO’s maritime commander in London, UK.