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Society

As Taliban Take Afghanistan, Greece Doesn’t Want Fleeing Refugees

ATHENS — Refugee-weary Greece doesn't want any more from Afghanistan but is girding for it after the Taliban seized the country, sending people fleeing for their lives, with worries they will use Turkey as a jumping off point to get to the European Union.

The EU closed its borders to them after more than a million fled their homelands in 2015 – mainly Afghanistan and war-torn Syria – and most made it to European countries before the door was shut, dumping the problem largely on Greece.

The EU's External Action Service (EEAS) will hold an extraordinary Council on Foreign Affairs (EEAS) meeting Aug. 17 with officials from Greece as well as other preferred refugee destinations, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Malta.

Those countries want Afghanistan on the agenda, with no explanation why it wouldn't be given the gravity of the crisis in that country which fell in a week after the military trained by the US and NATO for 20 years gave up.

“It is clear that our country will not be a gateway for a new wave of refugees,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis told Open TV.

“We are still waiting for a very small number of arrivals,” he noted, adding, however, that “this is a dynamic” and will depend very much “on the flows to Turkey and on Turkey’s attitude.”

“We never want to see the scenes we experienced in 2015 again,” he stressed, when a tsunami of refugees and migrants, including from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan and other countries reached the EU through Greece, from Turkey.

A swap deal between the EU and Turkey in 2016 slowed the number of arrivals but they are still coming as Turkey – which is supposed to contain them – still lets human traffickers operate, mainly to five Greek islands near Turkey's coast.

Major opposition SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras, who was in power when the refugees and migrants started coming and let it happen, said things are different this time, reported Kathimerini.

He said that, “The inevitable new refugee flows should not be shouldered once again by Greece or other first host countries” as under the EU's Dublin Regulation refugees can only seek asylum in the first countries in which they land.

Tsipras blamed the international community for Afghanistan's collapse, especially the United States which was accused of abandoning the country after fruitlessly trying for 20 years to drive out the Taliban.

“The only solution even now – after the withdrawal of American troops – is to promote a dynamic regional initiative under the United Nations that will include all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the EU and neighboring countries, imposing strict diplomatic and economic conditions on the new regime in Afghanistan, especially on the issue of human rights and especially women and children,” he said.

Andreas Loverdos, the senior official of the marginal center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) party, told SKAI TV that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who already has the EU under his thumb, will try to use the fall of Afghanistan for political gain.

“Will Turkey negotiate with the European Union and the United States to keep these people there?” he asked. Turkey was given 3 billion euros ($3.53 billion) to contain 4.4 million refugees and migrants but he demanded the EU release another 3 billion euros pledged or he would unleash more refugees and migrants.

Predictably, the politically irrelevant Communist KKE blamed the United States, which sent troops to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“It is clear that the US intervention in 2001, carried out under the pretext of ‘fighting terrorism’ after the attacks on the Twin Towers, actually had other aims, and in particular the control of the ‘soft belly’ of Russia and China,” said KKE.

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