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Politics

Twitter War: Mitsotakis Strikes Back at Erdogan Over Refugees, Migrants

March 2, 2020

ATHENS – Taking to Twitter to fire back at each other, Greek and Turkish officials – now including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – are swapping shots over Turkey opening its borders to let refugees and migrants try to get into Greece.

Mitsotakis tweeted that, “… Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, furious over the death of 33 Turkish soldiers in an area of northern Syria they had invaded, unleashed the hordes on the EU as he had long threatened to do.

Erdogan used the deadly attack by Russian warplanes against Turkish soldiers in jihadist-occupied Idlib to threaten to send what he called “Syrian refugees” to the EU. Idlib is the last territory in Syria held by groups of rebels, insurgents and Islamist terrorists, including an Al-Qaeda affiliate as well as what’s left of ISIS.

There are some 5.5 million in Turkey who had gone there fleeing war and strife in their homelands, including Afghanistan and Turkey, but also economic migrants from other regions who want to get to the EU.

The bloc, however, has closed its borders to them and other countries reneged on promises to help take some of the overload, dumping the problem largely on Greece which is holding about 100,000 in detention centers and camps, including 42,000 on islands near Turkey.

A second Tweet on Mitsotakis’ account noted that “…Greece does not bear any responsibility for the tragic events in Syria and will not suffer the consequences of decisions taken by others. I have informed the European Union of the situation,” said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

Earlier, Mitsotakis spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Council President Charles Michel, fearing there would be a repeat of 2015 when some one million refugees and migrants poured into EU, mostly through Greek islands and Greece.

The EU responded by closing its borders to them and with other countries reneging on promises to help take some of the overload and the last two EU migration commissioners – both from Greece’s ruling New Democracy, doing little to help.

The rekindled crisis has collided with Greek island officials and residents fiercely resisting government plans to build detention centers to vet refugees and migrants deemed ineligible for sanctuary and seizing private properties to build them.

That led to violence on several of the islands near Turkey, with police firing tear gas at demonstrators before the government pulled back their forces, but now facing a second front on the northern border were police fired tear gas at refugees and migrants.

Turkish media showed buses taking people from Constantinople toward the land border with Greece, mostly to the city of Edirne, with many reports saying the transportation was free of charge and provided by the government.

While the attention was focused on the land border near the treacherous Evros River, where many refugees and migrants have drowned trying to get into Greece, patrols were being stepped up in the Aegean to block refugees and migrants coming to islands.

Turkey had already let human traffickers operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU and at least 220 more arrived during the land border battles despite the additional patrols.

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