Rory O'Keeffe, Koraki
The Sound of Greece’s Summer: ‘It’s Turkey’s fault’, Part Four. Government feeds media its narrative
(This piece links to The Sound of Greece's Summer Parts One, Two and Three)
Following our reports on the situation regarding the Greek government’s ‘new narrative’ for the summer – that any increase in new arrivals to Greece will be Turkey’s fault (because the Turkish government ‘will send them’) and a ‘hybrid threat’ to Greece against which Greece will use its military (here; here; and here) the government has informed Greece’s most ‘reputable’ – and strong Nea Dimokratia-supporting – newspaper Kathimerini and confirmed what we said.
In an article headlined Greece bracing for all possible scenarios and sub-headed Athens on high alert amid daily escalations from Ankara, concerns over a new migrant rush, as well as led with a photo of a naval frigate (the image we have used here), the newspaper reports:
‘Athens is reportedly on full alert even for the most extreme scenario on the part of Ankara, given that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under pressure domestically and resorting to increasingly incendiary rhetoric.
‘This concern is further augmented by the concentration of refugees and migrants on the Turkish coast, mainly in the areas opposite Chios and Samos. There have been reports about the growing presence of boats in these areas that could be used by migrants arriving on the coast.
‘The influx of refugees and migrants on the Turkish coast, combined with the rhetoric of Turkish government officials, has led diplomatic and military circles in Athens to dust off previous crisis scenarios.’
The newspaper then claims:
‘Refugees and migrants have often been used by Turkey as a tool of pressure on Greece,’ a line which is not true and certainly came from the Greek government.
In effect, what we have here is confirmation of the predictions we made last week (which were, of course, made from statements given by Greek ministers and ‘ministry sources’): that the Greek government will blame the Turkish government for any increase in new arrivals to Greece, and that it will use its military against them.
As we noted alongside those predictions, an increase in people arriving is likely this summer, because we are no longer under the worst grip of the pandemic travel restrictions, among other factors (including the fact that the Greek government, in order to hide its gross and barbaric violations of international law in pushing back tens of thousands of men, women and children who have arrived, has pretended the number of arrivals to Greece has been far lower than it actually has: this year, the government seeks not to pretend that few people are coming, but that it is ‘right’ to push them back)
Equally, the increase will not be ‘Türkiye’s fault’. First, because the Turkish government, should it open its borders, would only be obeying international law, but second because even if it wanted to, the Turkish government cannot force people to Greece. If they come, they will do so because they want to. And this is their right.
And third, not only is it grossly immoral and an enormous overreaction (as well as a waste of money), using the Greek military to prevent vulnerable people from coming to Greece is also a gross violation of Greek, EU, and international law.
We might also note that this is not just a waste of time and money, or a grim, violent violation of human morality and the law, it is also yet another foolish act of short-sightedness.
Literally every study on either topic shows that Greek (and wider European) population-growth is slowing to such an extent that within 50 years in Greece there will be too few working-age people to keep society going, and that refugees and other new arrivals bring new ideas, new perspectives and new expertise. Within a year – often, given the right policies, in far less time – new arrivals not only ‘pay for themselves’ they contribute more than they take, and they help their economies grow, creating new jobs and opportunities as they do so.
Nea Dimokratia presents itself as the ‘party of enterprise’ and of ‘sound economic judgement’.
At the moment, its other, far darker side, its bigotry and racism – which led Norway, Finland, Germany and other EU states in 2007-08 (and led the EU Commission to take the Greek government to court) to refuse to send people back to Greece because of the government’s inhumane and illegal treatment of them: this was the last time Nea Dimokratia governed Greece alone – are governing its activities, and inspiring its policy.
If – as is likely – more people arrive in Greece this summer than did last year, that is their right, and it is not ‘Türkiye’s fault’.
Even if it were Türkiye’s fault, that would still not justify: pragmatically, morally, or legally, sending the armed forces out to attack vulnerable men, women and children.
Refugees and other new arrivals to Greece are no threat to Greece. On the contrary, they could be the absolute best thing to happen to the country, and benefit literally every person within it.
The Greek government has a duty under international law to allow people to enter and to consider the asylum applications on their own merits. It has a duty to its people not to waste the incredible opportunity it is being given.
It must not use armed forces against individuals seeking safe, decent places to live learn and work, and we must not allow it to pretend it is ‘justified’ in doing so.