The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) has expressed its support for Greece’s decision to secure its borders after Turkey relaxed curbs on the movement of migrants toward the EU border, while slamming Turkey for using Syrian refugees as “political pawns” in order to advance its own causes.
AHEPA also urged the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey while calling for long-term measures to deal with immigration challenges “in a more responsible, ethical, and humanitarian manner.”
Bellow is the full statement issued by AHEPA chief George G. Horiates:
AHEPA staunchly backs Greece's right to defend its borders as a new surge in migrant flows has intensified on Greece's islands and its land border with Turkey. Greece, because of its geographic location and its 8,700-mile border, the longest in Europe, continues to bear the brunt of the burden whenever Turkey chooses to “open the gates.”
It is unacceptable for Turkey, whenever it is in a bind, repeatedly to use Syrian refugees as political pawns to pressure and threaten Europe and NATO members for their support-in this case because of Turkey's illegal and misguided policy in Syria. AHEPA condemns the provocative rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened the release of “millions” of people going to the border and the dissemination of Turkish propaganda that has escalated tensions with seemingly no rebuke.
The migrant crisis in Greece is a crisis for all of Europe. The instability it has created is not in the best interest of the United States or the European Union. It has left the American Hellenic community and diaspora frustrated, angry, and concerned for the stability of the region and safety of individuals affected by this crisis instigated by Turkey.
AHEPA appreciates the recent statements of support from the United States and solidarity from the European Union and European capitals. Further, AHEPA is encouraged by the engagement of Frontex and EU leadership, who will visit the border with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. However, Europe must back its words and statements with sustained action.
This is another in an endless line of provocative actions by Turkey. It bears repeating, Turkey has engaged in the purposeful transfer of migrants, which Turkey itself has displaced, and many of whom are not from Syria, to Europe's borders in order to advance its bargaining power with Europe and the world. Turkey is not a friend of the West. It cannot be trusted, does not play fair, and certainly cannot claim any stake to international law. This is the Turkey that warranted our “Sanction Turkey” call with which the international community is dealing.
AHEPA calls for a more effective long-term policy from Europe and Turkey to control the flow of Syrian migrants to Europe in a more responsible, ethical, and humanitarian manner. AHEPA again calls for the European Union to impose sanctions on Turkey and to scrutinize its relationship with it. The West cannot continue to turn its blind eye to Turkey. Time and time again, AHEPA has made this international call to the West and will continue to do so.