Turkey’s blackmail, EU “solidarity” and Greece in emergency: refugees and migrants are not “human after all”

by Sissy Velissariou

On Sunday, the Greek government issued the following statement: “Because of the organised and mass character of refugees and immigrants’ heading to the borders of Greece, that has nothing to do with the international right to asylum.” 
The government claims that Greece is under a state of “asymmetric threat”, implying that Turkey is purposefully allowing refugees and migrants to “invade” the country. To this effect, the Greek government announced a number of measures such as the fortification of the Greek-Turkish border, by sending in the army, special police forces and coast guards along the river Evros in North-Eastern Greece and the islands, a one-month repeal of asylum-seeking procedures, and the immediate return of asylum seekers, who have entered the country. They have additionally requested that FRONTEX (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) immediately deploy operation RABIT for the protection of the national borders that are also EU’s borders
At the same time, in the context of EU member states’ ‘solidarity’, it called for the EU Council to activate A.78 of the EU Treaty of Lisbon that would recognise Greece as a country in a state of emergency because of the sudden influx of third countries’ citizens into its territory. Moreover, on monday morning, army training exercises with live ammunition started at the Greek-Turkish borders, along the Evros river. Coast guards have been seen intercepting and attempting to capsize boats, and even shooting at dinghies
Amnesty International has condemned this excessive use of force, and the ‘inhumane treatment’ of refugees and migrants, with Massimo Moratti stating that “People seeking asylum are once again being used as bargaining chips in a deadly political game, a predictable consequence of the EU-Turkey deal.”
For the past four days, more than 24,000 refugees and migrants have been trying to enter Greece from Turkey, where they are camping, while the Greek police have been using chemicals and flash bangs grenades against them along the Evros. 
Amidst all this tragedy and humanitarian crisis the EU “heads”, i.e. the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli arrived in Athens yesterday to visit, along with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriákos Mitsotákis, the Greek-Turkish borders in a ‘symbolic’ gesture of solidarity for Greece. 
As von der Leyen’s statement goes, “the challenge that Greece is facing is also a European challenge” but, on the other hand, “Turkey is in a difficult situation, therefore dialogue with it should be intensified at all levels.” 
Erdogan’s flagrant blackmail is the violation of the EU-Turkey Treaty agreement of 2016, through the “release” of refugees and migrants from Turkey (the Turkish government repeatedly inciting refugees and migrants to go to Europe through Greece) in return for the EU’s complicity with his aggressive geopolitical expansionism in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean. 
Characteristically, the German government keeps silent on this inhumane use of the distraught and dispossessed people as toys at the hands of superpowers but issues appeals to Erdogan to respect the Treaty. It is obvious by Merkel’s silence that her 2015 politics of ‘open borders’ is out of the question now. Instead, there are official statements that Germany will not repeat the same mistake, being tacitly in line with the Visegrad group. 
MeRA25’s position is that the EU-Turkey agreement is not the solution to the problem but rather it is the problem itself since it violates international legitimacy and is morally unacceptable. At the same time, in line with its pacifist policies, it calls for the cease of warfare and all kinds of hostilities in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, which are the real causes of the refugee and migrants’ tragedy.  

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