As the global coronavirus spreads and with a death toll of over 20,000 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ratcheting up tensions with Greece with a military escalation.
Having long downplayed the danger of the coronavirus, Erdogan has declared the coronavirus pandemic will have been resolved in two or three weeks in his country, Ankara has not let up on its intensive efforts to push tens of thousands of refugees and migrants and to challenge Greek sovereignty on several fronts.
Straight on the heels of the Turkish Air Force’s unprecedented move to send on Greek Independence day warplanes to conduct flights over the Greek mainland city of Kavala – 235 miles inland from the Greek-Turkish border at Evros – the Turkish government is now declaring that at the height of the push to get migrants across the border, which is viewed by Athens as bid to destabilise Greece, the 1,000 special forces that Ankara has for weeks stationed at the border for hours one day used live fire and lobbed gas bombs onto Greek territory.
Turkish forces amidst the pandemic crisis have withdrawn most of the thousands of migrants that it transported to the border and refused to allow their return to where they came from, mainly Istanbul.
The admission of this war-like act was made today by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, the deputy chairman of Erdogan’s AK Party claimed today that 150,000 migrants have crossed the Greek border which Greek authorities categorically denied as the Greek border is guarded by over 1,000 police special forces and army troops.
Soylu, however, has vowed that the push to send thousands of migrants to Greece will resume.
Greece has charged that Ankara is disseminating a barrage of disinformation from the abuse and torture of migrants to the alleged shooting death of a child.
Greece claims that even the venerable The New York Times has fallen prey to a massive, international Turkish fake news campaign to accuse Greece of sweeping human rights violations against migrants by running a story stating that Greece maintains near the border an extrajudicial centre where migrants were kept incommunicado before being sent back to Turkey.
Greece vehemently denies these charges and accuses Turkey of exploiting the misery of migrant to gain financial gain and geopolitical concessions from the EU and Greece (eg widening the Turkish-controlled area of Idlib in an occupation of that part of Syria and expropriating a large chunck of hydrocarbons in Greece’s EEZ.
Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis today directly accused Turkey of blackmailing Europe for years by sending over one million migrants and declared essentially that the jig is up and that both Greece and the EU will not permit this to continue.
“They will not pass the borders. This is a given,” Chrysohoidis said, noting that Greece and other EU countries are eagerly awaiting a new, tougher framework for dealing with asylum and migration.
“What they [Turkey]did for years, flooding Europe with migrants through Greece in order to blackmail Europe and Greece in particular. This is over,” he declared.
He said that at the Kastanies Greek-Turkish border crossing 1200 troops from Frontex have been deployed, most from Wiesengrad countries which vehemently oppose allowing migrants to enter Europe.