Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
Erdogan has been pushing migrants into Greece and Bulgaria for a few days now, as he engages in aggressive military action in Idlib against Syrian army forces and Russia military support, protecting the jihadists that have congregated in the Sunni stronghold, which is contrary to what he promised Russia. The migrant crisis is being forced on the back of the Syrian situation, which Erdogan has no business continuing under international law.
Yesterday, a European team of Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel visited the border area in Evros, Greece (see map below) with PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis (see image). In the afternoon a press conference was held, covered by RT (see video below).
In the video below, Mitsotakis – in very eloquent English – gives it to the EU in terms of his own commitment to protect Greek borders, and that the EU hasn’t risen well to the challenges since the migrant crisis of 2015. He speaks very frankly. Let’s hope, on behalf of his own people, he can rescue Greece from the insanity of ‘illegal’ migrants (he uses this word) pouring into his country. Von der Leyen and Michel are eager to show support for Greece, stressing at the same time that Greece is a ‘European border’ and propagandizing their help and solidarity:
In the Duran team’s video below, the following points are discussed. As ever, we can’t recommend their analysis highly enough. They have a very strong record of cutting through the nonsense and giving us a reliable take on any and all situations. Included in their analysis is the Coronavirus problem and globalism:
- The new Greek government under Mitsotakis has a strong mandate; it ran on a platform of not having open borders, unlike Tsipras’ government.
- Bulgaria is also standing firm. Both Greece & Bulgaria know Erdogan well.
- What will Merkel and Macron do? Merkel is staying quiet as the original author of this problem in 2015 by taking in so many migrants, which empowered Erdogan. The mood has changed in Germany. Macron needs to distance himself as Le Pen would be the only beneficiary from a mass movement of people. Remaining silent isn’t a viable political option. Repeating 2015 will fail.
- Erdogan deserves a strong European and Western ‘no’ to both the migrant influx and his demand for NATO/western support in Idlib as he protects the terrorists in Idlib, driving Syrians out.
- Syria needs rebuilding to fix this. Ditto for Libya. Both need to be functioning states again, then people won’t be fleeing. The Syrian war should have long been over.
- Where does the Coronavirus fit in? The Middle East will be a transit area for the virus given that Iran is now affected, as well as China. Leaving borders open is crazy, Europe refuses to close their national borders. The Schengen system needs revisiting as people’s health should be the most important thing.
- Globalism doesn’t work. The virus is a both product and symbol of this.
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Erdogan’s failing attempt to flood Europe with migrants kept in Turkey as a weapon to pressure EU and NATO members to support his war in Syria.
So far the Greek and Bulgarian governments have held firm in keeping the borders closed to migrants being pushed towards border crossings by Turkish authorities.
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As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Monday that soon the number of refugees crossing into Europe “will reach millions” unless the European Union takes responsibility for the crisis, Greece continued efforts to fortify its borders and diplomatic initiatives to tackle what it calls an “asymmetrical threat.”
On the diplomatic front, the government’s initiatives have led to a planned visit on Tuesday to the Greek-Turkish border in Evros by the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament – Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli – accompanied by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Even though Athens believes the visits send a powerful message, it is expecting practical support from its partners, stressing that Greece’s borders with Turkey are also European.
On Sunday, Greece announced emergency measures to tackle the crisis, including a further tightening of border controls to the maximum level, a temporary one-month suspension of asylum applications and the immediate return of undocumented migrants to their country of origin.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of refugees and migrants at the Greek border is estimated at around 13,000 people and tensions are rising as they try to push through.
Tensions were also running high on the islands following the arrival over the weekend of around 1,000 refugees and migrants, with locals trying to prevent one smuggling boat from docking.
A child died when one vessel capsized.
Meanwhile a military exercise with live ammunition was held in the Evros River border region by Greek army units on Monday, with the aim of sending out a message that Greece will not allow its national borders and security to be violated.
At the same time, EU border protection agency Frontex on Monday accepted Greece’s request for immediate assistance for the surveillance of the Evros border and the Eastern Aegean. Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said the agency was withdrawing border guards participating in other operations so that they can be sent to Greece.
Senior Frontex officials told Kathimerini that border guards will arrive in Greece within the next five days, while technical assistance (boats, airplanes, vehicles, etc.) is expected in the next 10 days.
European officials, meanwhile, condemned Erdogan’s stance, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that while she understands Turkey is facing a very big challenge in northwestern Syria, it is “wholly unacceptable” that instead of seeking a solution through dialogue with the EU, Erdogan is “taking it out on refugees.” Echoing similar sentiments, von der Leyen expressed sympathy with Turkey over its problems in Syria but noted that allowing refugees to amass at the Greek border “cannot be” the answer or the solution.
US President Donald Trump spoke on the telephone with Mitsotakis and reportedly acknowledged Greece’s right to implements its laws on its border.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, US defense chief Mark Esper said what Turkey does on its Greek border regarding refugees and migrants is “its own decision to make.”
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