Turkish leader is blackmailing European Union with the threat of the release of hundreds of thousands of refugees to the continent unless Brussels will transfer additional payments to Ankara. The first victim of this policy will be Turkey's close neighbour, Greece.
Greek forces are on heightened alert as reports have surfaced that Turkey is preparing to push through a fresh wave of migrants to Europe. Officials in Athens say, they fear that refugees infected with the coronavirus may be among the new wave of asylum seekers.
Greek government officials stated the heightened alert follows intelligence reports showing Turkish authorities moving refugee groups from remote inland areas to Turkey’s western shores, where smugglers could secretly ferry then to Greek islands less than a few kilometers away. Greece’s coastguard, Air Force and Navy are increasing patrols along the Aegean waterway that divides Greece and Turkey anticipating "an organised attempt by Ankara to push through thousands of asylum seekers" to Europe.
Greek media reported that Turkey was in fact considering such a plan hoping to exert fresh pressure on Europe to extract added financial aid for hosting nearly 4 million Syrian refugees and sparing the continent a fresh migration crisis.
Turkey does not respect an agreement signed with Greece in the beginning of this year either. It is no longer accepting migrants from Greece due to the coronavirus pandemic, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis told the Athens newspaper Ethnos.
In the first two months of the year, the repatriations from Greece provided for by the EU Turkey Refugee Pact increased significantly, Mitarakis stated. "Since then, Turkey has refused to accept the returns on the pretext of the corona virus," emphasised the minister.
At the end of February, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened the EU border to refugees and other migrants. As a result, thousands of people set out to get from Turkey to Greece and thus to the EU. Greece did not let them pass. Greek security forces use, among other things, stun grenades and tear gas.
The 2016 EU-Turkey Refugee Pact stipulates that Turkey will stop illegal migration to the EU and take back migrants who do not get asylum in Greece, in return for which Turkey will receive financial support
Erdoğan criticized that the EU had not kept to the agreements. EU politicians accused the Turkish president of using refugees for his political goals.