Turkish blackmail worsens situation for refugees

The Turkey-Greece borders are on alert as Turkey allows thousands of refugees to cross over to Europe. The move is being viewed as an attempt by the Turkish government to blackmail the European Union (EU) to support its imperialist designs in the Syrian conflict

March 02, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Refugee crisis
Massive deployment of Greek forces has been called to block the entry of refugees from Turkey. (Photo: Sol Haber)

The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean has escalated in the last week due to a spike in the flow of refugees and asylum seekers from Turkey into Greece. Following the fatalities inflicted on the invading Turkish military by the Syrian government forces in Idlib province on February 27, an outraged Turkey announced its decision to allow the refugees to cross over to Europe in contravention of a 2016 deal with the European Union (EU). As per the deal, Turkey had agreed to restrict migrants in the Turkish mainland and stop them from attempting to cross over to the EU. 

The Turkish government has now hinted that it is no longer obliged to restrain refugees unless the EU safeguards Turkish interests in the Syrian war. Since February 28, Friday, there has been a massive surge in refugees crossing the border between Turkey and Greece from land and sea routes. The land border areas have been put on red alert, especially at Kastanies, where thousands of refugees have reached in order to cross over to Greece.

On Sunday, the conservative New Democracy (ND) government in Greece announced that they would suspend new asylum applications and strengthen the security deployment at Kastanies border.

In response to this, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has said: “as long as the Greek government does not contest the policy of the EU and NATO, who uproot people, orchestrate the entrapment of the refugees in islands and borders and support Erdogan for their own interests, the refugee problem will be exacerbated. The refugees and immigrants will simply seek new, more dangerous ways of escape and will be the victims of traffickers and governments which play various geopolitical games on their backs.

“The Greek government must now exercise the greatest possible pressure, in every way, on the EU so that the refugees can travel to the countries of their destination – so that there will be a fair distribution of refugees, against ‘Dublin Regulation II’ and the EU-Turkey agreement which has been utterly bankrupted”, KKE added.

There are currently more than 3.7 million refugees in Turkey who have fled war-torn Syria and are seeking to cross to Europe. The Greek island of Lesvos has been one of the primary destinations for these refugees. The camps on the island, especially the one in Moria, have become overcrowded, with health and sanitation conditions deteriorating day-by-day. The spike in the inflow of migrants to Greece has already raised anxiety among the refugees in the camps and the natives of the islands. Discontent has been simmering between the migrants and the locals. Both sides have held marches and demonstrations seeking immediate government intervention in the issue. According to reports, the Greek riot police have violently repressed the marches by the refugees.

The burgeoning refugee population in Turkey is a fallout of the ongoing war in Syria, in which Turkey is also involved. These refugees are being used by the Turkish government as cannon fodder to blackmail the EU to support its imperialist designs in Syria. 

The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) has said that the country is too valuable to be delivered into the service of imperialist interests of NATO and the US. Turkey should immediately abandon its war policy in Syria, which most of its people do not approve of. The TKP has demanded that Turkish troops be called back from Syria.