Today’s scheduled telephone contact on the Afghan refugee crisis between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the request of the former is on the Greek side a bid to secure an understanding that will avert a flood of refugees into Greece at the Greek-Turkish at Evros.
Athens appears poised to seal its land and sea borders and take all possible measures to avert a repetition of the February, 2020, Evros refugee crisis in which Ankara attempted unsuccessfully to push thousands of refugees across the border into Greece.
Greek diplomatic sources say that the PM’s key argument is that is in neither country’s interest to permit a large flow of refugees into Greece’s borders, which of course are also EU borders.
Mitsotakis to seek cooperation as Greece, Turkey are in ‘the same boat’
“Athens’ argument is that cooperation with Ankara is necessary because the two countries and the broader region may suffer serious repercussions from a huge refugee flow from Afghanistan and so they are confronted with the same problem,” Greek government sources say.
Defence, public order ministers inspecting Evros wall
The contact between Mitsotakis and Erdogan was scheduled even as Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Citizen’s Protection Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis are conducting an urgent inspection of the Evros border wall, after an emergency meeting of the Government Council on National Security, where all possible scenarios were on the table. No details were made public.
Guarding borders, ad hoc cooperation
Sources close to the PM say that Mitsotakis will make clear to Erdogan that without cooperation on the refugee issue, “Greece will continue equally effectively to guard its land and sea borders just as it is doing today.”
Effectively, Athens seek to explore the prospects for an ad-hoc cooperation on the imminent refugee crisis so that Greece and Turkey will not be left to their own devices by the EU and the US, “which want to keep a distance from the crisis”.
EU, US must assume their responsibilities
At an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias called for joint EU-US initiatives.
He stressed the need to effectively guard the EU’s external borders while at the same time to stem an emerging humanitarian crisis.
Dendias said it must be made clear to third countries such as Turkey that an instrumentalisation of the crisis by Ankara is impermissible and that this requires close cooperation with the US and other involved parties.
Turkey country of first reception
The Greek foreign ministry in a letter characterised Turkey as a safe country for the reception of Afghan refugees and so it is legally obliged to keep them on its territory.
The Greek migration ministry has argued that Afghan refugees in Turkey are not endangered due to race, religion, nationality, political convictions, or participation in a particular social group and so they are eligible to apply for international protection in Turkey.