„Katerina Sokou, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the DC correspondent for the Greek daily Kathimerini and SKAI-TV, spoke to Middle East Forum Radio host Gregg Roman on March 11 about the escalating migrant crisis at the Greek-Turkish border.
„[W]e’ve seen in the past few weeks the way that [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoǧan has instrumentalized … migrants and refugees to blackmail Europe“ into making a host of concessions, ranging from visa liberalization for Turkish citizens entering the EU to support for his ambitions in Syria.
The Turkish government has spread „misinformation that the borders were open“ to the estimated 4 million migrants and refugees it hosts, provided them with „free buses to go to the [Greek] border,“ and then kept them in „bad conditions“ once they got there to encourage them to take the risk of violently confronting Greek border guards. Sokou said the people apprehended by the Greek authorities are mostly nationalities other than Syrians fleeing Idlib — „Afghanis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iraqis, Somalis, people from Northern Africa,“ many of whom have resided in Turkey so long that they can speak Turkish.
The crisis is „a public health concern as well as a security concern“ in light of the coronavirus pandemic, said Sokou. The „violent way that the migrants and refugees are trying to enter,“ evading the normal processes of crossing into a country, makes it difficult to screen them for COVID-19 infection.
Greece is urgently lobbying the EU for help managing the crisis. Specifically, it seeks several forms of help. First, the EU must hold Turkey responsible for stopping the migration into Greece, providing assistance in return for „keeping the refugees and migrants in Turkey.“ “ (…)