According to the Greek media, about 12.500 people are waiting on the Turkish side of the land border with Greece to enter Greece and, thus, the European Union. At the border in northeastern Greece, tear gas was used by the Greek Police again, because of the riots. The Greek side has previously claimed that the migrants on the Turkish side of the border are also in possession of tear gas. In light of recent events, the presidents of central institutions of the European Union visited the Greek land border with Turkey on Tuesday and pledged solidarity and concrete assistance to help cope with the new migration wave. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex is expected to help. Greece will also receive 700 euros of financial assistance, of which 350 million euros will be made available immediately.
An increasing number of people are coming to the Turkish-Greek border, following Turkey’s recent decision not to stop the migrants on their way to Europe anymore. In recent days, Greek authorities have prevented more than 24 thousand attempts to cross the European Union’s external border illegally. The European Union has announced that it will provide 700 million euros to help Greece secure its border. »Frontex is preparing the deployment of one offshore patrol vessel and six coastal patrol vessels, two helicopters, one aircraft, and three thermo-vision vehicles. 100 border guards in addition to the current 530 border guards will be deployed by Frontex at the land and at the sea borders,« the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said.
The aforementioned President of the European Commission, the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, and the President of the European Council Charles Michel visited the Greek border, accompanied by the Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Micotakis. The latter accused Turkey od being a migrant trafficker and clearly violating the 2016 migration deal. »Those who seek to test Europe’s unity will be disappointed. We will hold the line and our unity will prevail. Now is the time for concerted action and cool heads and acting based on our values. Turkey is not an enemy and people are not just means to reach a goal,« von der Leyen emphasized.
Brussels is also trying to resolve the latest migrant crisis, which was caused by Turkey’s decision, by talking directly to the highest Turkish political representatives about the worsening situation in northwestern Syria and the humanitarian consequences for the civilian population. »We have come here today to send a very clear statement of European solidarity and support to Greece. Our first priority is making sure that order is maintained at the Greek external border, which is also a European border. I am fully committed to mobilising all the necessary operational support to the Greek authorities,« von der Leyen stated. With the escalation of the migrant crisis, the question is whether the European Union, although much more unified and decisive than it was in 2015, can withstand the defending of its external borders for a longer period of time. Experts believe that the fall of Greece could trigger a domino effect, which is what happened in the wake of the previous crisis in September 2015.
Those waiting at the border, are just a drop in the ocean
According to political analyst Mitja Iršič, people currently waiting at the border are just a drop in the ocean, with millions of people behind them also waiting to come through. »Erdogan is willing to trade with everyone. At the moment, the German authorities, which are leading the foreign politics, have made it clear that they will not negotiate.« Let us remind you. At the time of Miro Cerar’s government, more than half a million people crossed the Slovenian border illegally. As it later turned out, many of them were terrorists, who sowed fear and terror across Europe. There was no major migrant wave during the time of Marjan Šarec’s government, however, we were witnesses to burglaries of holiday homes, thefts and even abduction of a local.
The migrant issue is one of practical nature
According to Iršič, we have the necessary capacities to protect our borders. »The problem was that Šarec’s government had not been sufficiently utilizing the army or the Police. A spokesperson for the Police union said at the time that the Police are »malnourished« and lacking in units. Minister Boštjan Poklukar accused him of playing political games, but I hope that times like that are now over.« He stated that he does not see the migrant question as an ideological issue, but rather, that it one is of a purely practical nature. »There are 193 United Nations member countries in the world, two observers, and Tajvan and Kosovo. None of these countries, which have sovereign borders, would treat the illegal immigrants any differently than Greece is currently treating them.«
When asked if the Slovenian media scene is going to standardize the way they talk about this issue – given that Nova24TV and POP TV are using the term migrants (»migranti«), RTV SLO is insisting on the term refugees (»prebežniki«), and Mladina, Dnevnik, and Delo are using the term refugees (»begunci«), a journalist of Spletni časopis Peter Jančič comments that this points to some ideological undertones. »They wanted to use the term refugee to point out that these were not people, who were coming here illegally. In doing so, they wanted to show that these were people fleeing war zones, as was the case at the time of the Bosnian war. The problem is, this turned out to be false.« Should the Greek border fall, this year’s first migrant wave could reach Slovenia in a few months. But this time, the leaders of the European Union are intending to work together and do everything in their power to prevent this from happening. Even if this means that it will be necessary to kneel under the demands of the Turkish President Erdogan again.
Migrants are a tool in the hands of certain players
Denis Čaleta, a security expert at the Institute for Corporate Security Studies commented on Erdogan’s move on the show Tarča. He said that the European Union had not fulfilled all the promises it had made to Turkey in 2016 when the agreement was implemented. »The European Union and Europe as such is a geopolitical captive of the geostrategic interests of certain important regional players. Turkey is one of them, and of course, in achieving its strategic interests, the migrant wave is what could hurt the European Union the most. Of course, the EU will also be prepared to take some steps towards possible financial injections, as well as sending the political signals that Erdogan wants.« When asked about the humaneness of the Turkish President’s move, given that Turkey is aware that people are trapped at the border because Greece does not want to let them pass through, Čaleta stressed that there is no talk of humaneness here. »What’s going on is that these migrants are a tool in the hands of certain players, who are using and abusing this so-called living force on the chessboard of geopolitical issues, in order to put pressure on others and achieve their interests.«
»We need to be very clear – unfortunately, the European Union is always extremely passive.« According to Čaleta, the visit of the Presidents of the three most important EU institutions at the Greek-Turkish border gives a clear signal, showing that the European politics will stand for Greece and, of course, for Bulgaria, in defence of their external borders of the European Union. »This is a very different, positive approach, which can, of course, be used by the European Union to help resolve what remains to be resolved at this time.« Čaleta also points out that it is difficult to assess whether the European Union is united in its approach. »We can look at this from a positive standpoint and see it as a positive step forward. A common willingness to help the countries most affected by the migrant wave. On the other hand, it is true that in some countries, there have been a few signals, sent by the leading representatives of these countries, who are trying to take advantage of these migrant politics in order to communicate some of their own partial interests. This is the fear that if the resolving of the migrant crisis does not go in the right direction, or if the crisis increases, the countries will again take an individual, national approach in solving this migrant crisis, which we all know has not produced good results in the years of 2015/2016, and will not produce good results now.«
No border can be hermetically closed
Čaleta points out that it is difficult to predict how long the Greek defense can hold, in light of the increasing number of migrants. »No border can be hermetically closed. Despite the restrictive measures at the Turkish-Greek border, the assistance of Frontex and other countries, it is expected that a certain percentage of these migrations will still spill into the Balkan migrant route. If the cooperation of the countries on this route will be appropriate, then, of course, with the use of certain mechanisms, we can ensure that these migrants are returned back outside of the European Union.«
When the number of people at the Greek-Turkish border exceeds critical mass, they will simply start turning towards the direction, in which they can get to Europe, he is convinced. »If the Greek border is difficult to cross, I am convinced that the current will be able to move towards Bulgaria, so the Eastern Balkan route will be more at risk (Bulgaria, Hungary or Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia). At this point, it is really hard to predict what will happen. Based on the experience that we have had in 2015/2016, every country will strive to get as few migrants onto its territory as possible or to make sure that the flow does not go directly through their country. It all depends on how the situation will develop. If the migrant flow finds its way across the Turkish-Greek border in smaller quantities, then it may happen that individual countries will take action at their borders and that migrants will try to return to their original point of entry into the European Union. However, if we witness a scenario that could once again result in a massive migration wave, then I am sure the countries will again move in the direction of only transporting migrants for as long as possible. Republic of Slovenia must do everything we can to avoid witnessing this scenario.«