The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) has backed Greece for sending police and army units to its northern border with Turkey, which sent thousands more refugees and migrants there.
AHEAP, in a statement, criticized Turkey for using Syrian refugees as “political pawns” after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he opened his country’s borders in the wake of the deaths of dozens of soldiers in an area of northern Syria that Turkey invaded.
That led to fears that Turkey, which has about 5.5 million refugees and migrants who came there fleeing war and strife in Afghanistan and Syria and also economic migrants from other countries, could find itself overwhelmed.
Erdogan said it was the EU’s responsibility to help after he criticized the bloc for holding back 3 billion euros ($3.3 billon) in aid from the 6 billion ($6.6 billion) it promised and for not keeping terms of a 2016 refugee swap deal that was supposed to bring Turkey faster-track entry and visa-free travel for its citizens in Europe.
AHEPA also urged the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey while calling for long-term measures to deal with immigration challenges “in a more responsible, ethical, and humanitarian manner.”
The EU has been very reluctant to get tough on Erdogan, including over Turkish ships drilling for oil in Cyprus and for repeatedly having fighter jets and warships violate Greek airspace and waters, worrying Erdogan would send more refugees and migrants.
AHEPA Supreme President George G. Horiates, in a statement, said that the group, backs Greece’s rights to defend its borders and noted that because of its 8700-mile border, the longest in Europe, that it “continues to bear the brunt of the burden whenever Turkey chooses to ‘open the gates.’”
He added that, “AHEPA condemns the provocative rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened the release of “millions” of people going to the border and the dissemination of Turkish propaganda that has escalated tensions with seemingly no rebuke,” with NATO – to which Greece and Turkey belong – refusing to intervene.
“The migrant crisis in Greece is a crisis for all of Europe. The instability it has created is not in the best interest of the United States or the European Union. It has left the American Hellenic community and diaspora frustrated, angry, and concerned for the stability of the region and safety of individuals affected by this crisis instigated by Turkey,” he said.
“AHEPA calls for a more effective long-term policy from Europe and Turkey to control the flow of Syrian migrants to Europe in a more responsible, ethical, and humanitarian manner. AHEPA again calls for the European Union to impose sanctions on Turkey and to scrutinize its relationship with it. The West cannot continue to turn its blind eye to Turkey,” he said.