NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris called on United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo to take several steps to address the Syrian refugee crisis and its impact on tense relations between Greece and Turkey. In recent days, the flood of refugees crossing Turkey into Greece led to border conflicts between the two nations.
“The increasing conflict between Greece and Turkey is destabilizing to the region and unfair to Greek residents and refugees alike. The United States should do more to help address the impact of this crisis on Greece,” said Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris. “The United States should push the European Union to relocate refugees across the continent and not rely on Greece to bear the entire burden. We should also
provide additional aid to our Greek allies to help them better manage the overwhelming number of refugees entering their country.”
The United States earlier this week announced $108 million in aid for Syrian refugees but has thus far not sufficiently contributed to help Greece’s efforts to support displaced persons.
Senator Gianaris’ full letter appears below:
March 8, 2020
The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
I write regarding the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and the resulting escalating conflict between Greece and Turkey. Ambassador Kelly Craft recently announced USAID’s $108 million funding commitment to aid the crisis, which makes the United States the largest relief funder in the region. This funding aims to address the ongoing crisis in Idlib, Syria but does not address the needs of countries receiving the refugees.
I ask that additional funds be specifically directed to support the nation of Greece in responding to this humanitarian tragedy. I also ask you to use your substantial influence to have the European Union relieve the burden on Greece by relocating refugees throughout the EU and by providing more on the ground support to the Greek people.
The flood of migrants fleeing a desperate situation in Syria has been making its way through Turkey and into Greece, resulting in increasing confrontations between the Greek and Turkish people. On Friday, European Union ministers of state gathered in Zagreb to make the heartbreaking declaration that Europe is “closed” to more refugees The Guardian. “Refugees told 'Europe is closed' as tensions rise at Greece-Turkey border.” March 6, 2020. https://bit.ly/2Tv4924. All EU nations should share in the effort to deal with this refugee crisis and not impose the entire burden on the Greek people.
Accordingly, the United States should encourage our European allies to alleviate the pressure on Greece to handle this crisis alone as well as support a significant investment to the nation of Greece in support of ongoing relief efforts. Without these measures, Greece will
continue struggling to adapt to the incoming population of displaced persons and I fear we will eventually witness greater conflict between Greece and Turkey as a result.
I appreciate your attention to this matter. As the representative of a large, Greek diaspora and Greek-American community in New York, I know the hearts of the Greek people sympathize with their families and friends across the ocean in an economically challenged nation, as well as with refugees struggling for freedom and a better life. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions or concerns.
Senator Michael Gianaris
Deputy Majority Leader