ATHENS – Greece’s major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras said the country is facing a “geopolitical threat” from Turkey challenging sovereignty by opening the gates for refugees and migrants to try to cross.
Speaking to Mega TV, he said a standoff at the northern border between Greek forces and thousands of refugees and migrants trying to leave Turkey should have been foreseen by the ruling New Democracy.
He said the government made the right move by closing the borders after New Democracy while out of power, accused him of having an open-door policy that saw the numbers of refugees and migrants swell, some 100,000 now being held, including 42,000 on islands.
Tsipras said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “using refugees as a political tool,” noting that the problem is not limited to migration, but extends to challenges to Greece’s sovereign rights.
“The government should have foreseen Turkey’s blackmail, as it has been threatening (to open the borders) for a long time,” he said without noting Erdogan did the same to him. Tsipras criticized the government for not having decongested the overcrowded island camps sooner although during his reign he refused to do so, saying it would violate an essentially-suspended European Union swap deal with Turkey.
He said Greece should get more aid from the EU, which he didn’t do while ruling, and called on the EU to sanction Turkey and Erdogan, which it has not done after fearing for the past few years that Erdogan would open Turkey’s border.
While saying the borders should have been closed – they weren’t when he was ruling – he ripped New Democracy at the same time, saying that, “its communication ploys do not help,” without explaining what he meant.
He said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had called for national consensus on critical issues when SYRIZA was ruling, still hasn’t called a council of political leaders from rival parties for their input.
While the heads of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament went to the Evros River region on the northern border with Turkey he noted they had no criticism of Erdogan now.