ATHENS – A timid European Union is allowing Turkey to have keep sending refugees and migrants overwhelming Greek islands with a new crisis and won’t confront Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop it, Retired Admiral Konstantinos Ginis said.
The honorary chief of Greece’s armed forces told SKAI TV that Greece is facing an “asymmetrical threat” from Turkey and that the EU is “incapable and unwilling” to deal with the issue, except except “superficially, putting money into it,” reluctant to take on the tough Turkish leader.
He said that Greece needs to change course toward Turkey – Greece supports Turkey’s long-delayed hopes of joining the EU – with the former military leader saying the new New Democracy government should the condemn the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement on migration and get a new deal that would require other EU countries to take in refugees and migrants.
The EU has closed its borders to them and reneged on promises to help take some of the overload of some 78,000 refugees and migrants being held in detention centers and camps, including more than 33,00 on islands.
Technically violating the EU deal, Greece’s new government is going to move thousands off islands to the mainland and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his goal is to send back 20,000 to Turkey who aren’t eligible for asylum, for which virtually all have applied.
New Democracy’s toughening of asylum procedures and plans to speed applications but also deportations was criticized by human rights groups who don’t want anyone returned and said the policy should be more lenient.
Greece must also stress to Turkey that its failure to help slow the flow across the Aegean to Greek islands is an “act of aggression,” Ginis said, but no Greek government has been willing to do anything with Erdogan other than plead with him.
Ginis dismissed efforts by the government to speed up the asylum procedure as a “tertiary issue,” saying that the focus needs to be on “why all these people are coming and how.”
“Do we have a strategy for preventing their arrival?” Ginis asked, saying that Greece needs to strengthen its presence along its border with Turkey and he said the transfer of refugees and migrants would only be an incentive for more to come, thinking they would find sanctuary.
Noting photos of buses taking refugees and migrants to hotels instead of camps he said that, “It’s like we’re telling them: ‘Come over’,” to Greece.