Survey Shows Greeks’ High Anxiety Over Turkey, Refugees

FILE- Refugges and migrants on a plastic boat approach a Greek Coast Guard ship during a rescue operation early Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, near the Greek island from Samos.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Fear there could be conflict with Turkey over the Aegean and East Mediterranean and a rekindling of a refugee crisis is high on the minds of worried Greeks with a poll finding those issues vexing them.

Some 62 percent of those surveyed by the Pulse firm for SKAI TV said they were worried about Turkish provocations that have included violation of air space and Turkey’s drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and planning to do the same off Crete after signing a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them.

Most supported Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ handling of the Turkish problem with that country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has seen the Greek leader trying to build an international alliance.

But they didn’t like the way that Germany, the United States and the European Union are responding. The US has a military cooperation deal with Greece but President Donald Trump backs Erdogan and the EU has given Greece press statements of support only.

Some 55 percent of respondents said the Mitsotakis Administration’s actions with Turkey are okay with 36 percent saying they are not as the provocations keep building, with Greece left out of an EU meeting about Libya where Turkey was invited.

A surge in some 50,000 more migrants and refugees coming to Greece after New Democracy was elected, most to already overwhelmed Greek islands, found Greeks divided over how it is being handled.

The government said it would speed asylum application processing as well as deportations back to Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to keep sending refugees and migrants to Greece after they had gone to Turkey first, fleeing war and strife in their homelands.

Some, 49 percent of respondents said the government’s plans are enough as they also include replacing island camps with detention centers to vet those ineligible for sanctuary but with no way to force Turkey to take them back an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU.

The government said it would step up patrols in the Aegean to look for rubber dinghies and rickety, overcrowded boats carrying refugees and migrants to Greek islands although that hasn’t worked in the five years since the crisis began.

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