Redline received this article from the Communist Organisation of Greece (KOE), probably the largest current on the Greek far-left.
Our friends in the KOE describe here the mounting crisis in Greece and tensions on the Turkish border. As desperate people flee from their homelands, which have been ruined after decades of imperialist wars and interventions, the people of Greece are being left to deal with a situation that was not of their making.
We are printing it to encourage discussion about the plight of Greek people and the refugees stranded there. Redline writers support open immigration in the imperialist countries, it should not be the poor nations that have to open their borders. We maintain that the workers in the First World should support the working class of the Third World, otherwise workers in the imperialist countries end up lining up behind their own ruling classes.
(March 15, 2020)
Refugee and migrant crisis fuelled by Turkey is a direct threat to sovereignty of Greece
- Turkey : Looking westward, Erdogan uses refugees to serve Turkish expansionist aspirations
- Greece : For the Greek people, struggle for democracy passes through the defense of Greece’s sovereignty
1. A brief account of the present crisis
We want to share with you our point of view and our assessment regarding the recent events and developments at the Greek-Turkish border. At first, we find it necessary to say that our considerations are driven by a twofold responsibility: Towards the people of Greece and at the same time regarding the broader interests of the cause of global emancipation.
Currently we are faced with a very aggravated twist of a twofold problem. Setting the context in broad terms, our country and our society finds itself entangled between (a) the escalating aggressiveness of the expansionism of Turkey as it aspires to become a key peripheral power in the region, and (b) the systematic intention of the forces ruling Europe and more generally the West to turn our country into a protectorate of very limited sovereignty so much in economic as in national, and state terms. These two aspects act in a combined way whilst at the same time NATO and almost all Western powers pursue a policy favouring Turkey in their endeavour to avoid jeopardizing their ties with it.
Not surprisingly, our point of view is at odds with mainstream opinion as provided by the Media being dominated by the West. However a more recent adverse development must also be considered: that of a prevailing globalist political and ideological current, which is determined to curb any resistance against its plans to dissolve societies, national identities, state barriers and any stronghold used by people in their attempt to protect their rights and their ways of life. Moreover, significant parts of the European progressive and leftist forces are highly influenced or are simply parts of this current…
The migrant and refugee issue (not in its form of a problem between, say, two Scandinavian countries, but in the context of the Turkish expansionism combined with the intention of Europe to use Greece as a huge refugee depot) now becomes a national problem for Greece. More precisely, a question of national sovereignty in its very dialectic relation to the struggle for democracy. And let us add to it that this question is rapidly emerging to become a key one for the case of human emancipation worldwide.
Thus and especially in view of the currently unfolding, concerted, cheeky and unfair campaign accusing the Greek society of being racist and fascist, it would be justified to expect that progressive people and organisations of the Left would stand firm against this poisonous and disorienting propaganda.
We will now proceed presenting key elements that help explain the dynamics of the current dangerous tense situation at the Greek-Turkish border.
2. The Turkish expansionism: Key objectives and priorities of the Erdogan regime
2.1. The rise of Ankara’s capacity
As we have very often mentioned in our international briefings and bilateral discussions with fraternal forces, the Turkish expansionism has evolved to be a critical factor to shaping affairs in the area of Eastern Mediterranean Sea and well beyond.
Moreover, during recent years a new situation has emerged as a result of the wane of the Western capacity to unequivocally impose its control over the region; it was ensued by the rise of the Turkish capacity to play an independent political and military role, acting as an important player swinging between the competing super power players in the area (namely USA, Russia and to a lesser extent European powers).
This has enabled Turkey, especially under Erdogan, to project its expansionist aspirations at an unprecedented scale, participating as an important factor alongside the principal imperialist forces to the liquidation of countries (Iraq, Syria) and to campaigns aiming at the subjugation, resettlement or even genocide of certain national groups (Kurds both inside Turkey and in Syria and even Iraq).
To help you get a measure of scale, Turkey now days boosts its expansionist and interventionist plans through a net of military bases and presence extending over a wide region from the Balkans in the west, to Somalia, Qatar and even Azerbaijan in the east.
The Erdogan regime steadily proceeds through the imposition of faits accomplis and the exploitation of the weakening of a number of countries (among them Syria, Iraq, Libya, and also Greece in different terms) brought upon by the devastating imperialist policies of the Western powers (either military or economic).
Now, besides the 36.2% of the Republic of Cyprus that Turkey occupies since 1974, it also does so with significant parts of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Republic of Iraq.
By the way, it is worthwhile to mention at this point that Erdogan is not sincere in trying to present himself as a friend of Palestinians and a foe of Zionists. Though this matter would need a lengthy elaboration, here we limit ourselves to referring to the recent statement made by the Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry condemning the joint Turkish-Israeli missile launch against Syria.
2.2. Neo-Ottoman ambitions
The Erdogan regime currently pursues a systematic plan to exert a neo-Ottoman type of influence (and even rule) over the area. To this end Erdogan has overtly declared his defiance of treaties (merely the Lausanne Treaty) that set Turkish border with a number of Middle East and Balkan countries, specifically Greece. His ambitions encompass parts of Syria and Iraq in the East and his direct questioning of the Greek sovereignty over significant areas including Thrace, and the Eastern Aegean with its Greek islands.
At the same time Turkey has recently repeatedly invaded Cyprus territorial sea (it should also be said in this context that it does not recognize the very existence of the Republic of Cyprus) while at the same time in an outrageous illegal move Erdogan has agreed with the Libyan authorities ruling Tripolis to almost strip Greece of its territorial rights in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, allocating them to Turkey and Libya.
These objectives are complemented by a warmongering rhetoric themed around claims for a Turkish “Blue Homeland”, “The borders of Our Heart”, or vulgar threats of the type “we shall feed the Greeks to the fish of the Aegean” that poison the relation between nations and people.
To the same end, Ankara has also promoted its links with various Jihadist factions, among them Al Qaeda under its numerous disguises and also ISIS with all adverse implications this has on the stability of the area and also of Europe.
Current Turkish expansionism is not fuelled only by interests related to supposed and proven oil and gas reserves in the area. If this was his main concern, Erdogan would have already found his place around the negotiations’ table. His aspirations are much greater: namely to transform Turkey into a regional super-power, peer with the first rate European powers. That’s why he snubs EU, favoring instead direct talks and bargains with Trump, Putin, Merkel, Macron and Johnson. (It is another matter of course to what extent he will be able to succeed with his plans. Serious counteracting factors work as well).
All the above is not to say that situation is hopeless and that there is no way to counteract these adverse developments. On the contrary, the only purpose of our presentation is to shed light to the real terms under which the struggle for human emancipation takes place in Greece and in the wider region. Even more so, if we consider the negative influence of the globalization “effect” and of its characteristic “European” tendency in particular, to neglect and distort the critical role that the sovereignty issue currently plays in this part of the world as well as worldwide.
3. The refugee and migrant issue: Its current twist and implications
3.1. The Turkish policy of using refugees as a weapon
Erdogan is using refugees and migrants as a tool in manifold ways. He applies pressure to Europe advancing multiple demands, both political and economic: political support on the part of NATO for Turkish invasion to Syria, the reinforcement of his bargaining the full agenda of Turkey’s relation with Germany, the loosening of entry restrictions to EU for Turkish nationals, not to mention squeezing extra EU funds.
Moreover, in the framework of the invasive war he wages in Syria, he applies a systematic policy of violent repression of populations there, forcing them to form massive refugee flows which he then uses as a war weapon. The resettlement of the residents of entire regions in the same areas that he has previously violently evacuated, turning into refugees their native habitants, is a typical pattern of Turkish policies (Kurds in northern Syria is only a most recent example of a long term Turkish policy, lasting for more than a century).
Primarily relevant to our current discussion of course, is the fact that the Erdogan regime has been using refugee and migrant flows as a weapon targeting Greece’s integrity and stability for quite a while. The present aggravation of this crisis however constitutes a move to another level. That of conducting a hybrid war against our country. This strategy is deployed in two stages, complementing effectively the European treatment of the refugee issue and its associated calculation to turn Greece into a huge refugee concentration camp:
- At first it has been aiming at forcing significant migrant flows specifically to the islands of the Eastern Aegean (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros, and Kos) creating an overwhelming problem (which very recently has led to a social uprising of local societies), disintegrating local social life and destabilizing their defence. The European and especially the German foreign policy has proven very collaborative to this effect, putting forward in 2016 an EU-Turkey refugee deal fully disregarding Greek interests. Once more we have to say: It should be well understood that due to the constant Turkish pressure put on the Greek territorial sovereignty, the Greek-Turkish border is another matter than say the Italian-Swiss ones.
- Now we have well entered a second phase of this plan. Erdogan being under pressure in Idlib (Syria) is pushing tens of thousands of people towards the Greek frontier at river Evros. He pushes Greece to get the border open and let a huge population of muslim origin pass into Thrace and Northern Greece. Manipulating these people, he aims at boosting his openly expressed claim to reduce the Greek sovereignty in Thrace, an area which already has a native local muslim minority. At the same time he keeps pressing harder on the Greek islands. He bets that even if the Greek government withstands the enormous pressure (both physical and political as we will see below), it will soon become apparent that Greece can not ensure its sovereignty and orderly way of life by its own means. This would open the way for the deployment of a “peace keeping” force at the border and possibly at some critical parts of the Greek national space (eg Eastern Aegean islands) and for the loosening of the Greek sovereignty over these parts, and its transfer to a multinational force with a substantial Turkish influence – a state of affairs resembling Kosovo.
In conclusion, it is evident that the refugee and migrant issue as used by Turkish policy hand in hand with EU considerations, turns rapidly into a national problem for Greece, posing a direct threat to its sovereignty. The imminent European (Merkel and Macron) – Turkish meeting most possibly is going to elaborate on this. Once more Greece is not invited and its interests do not matter at all.
3.2. The real value of Erdogan’s “humanitarian” rhetoric
On these grounds one should judge the validity of the allegations made by the Turkish regime related to “bearing the burden of 4 million refugees and migrants” and Erdogan’s attempts to present himself as a humanitarian who looks after refugees, whilst at the same time he calls Greece to “open the border and stop behaving as Nazis did!”.
Wide evidence testifies differently.
Ankara has built up a whole business on gathering refugees and migrants from all over Africa (Somalia being the best client) and from various brought down countries of the region (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria), to whom it sells the promise of a “ticket” to Europe through Greece. Impressive circuits of exploiters and human traffickers have been set, in full cooperation with the Turkish authorities that “open the tap” and set the level of the refugee and migrant flow according to Erdogan’s political needs. In any case Erdogan himself, addressing the General Assembly of UN last year, boasted that he can overwhelm Europe with migrants whenever he wants.
Even worse for those who let themselves be seduced by Erdogan’s “humanitarian” rhetoric, the reality proves that if there is a regime that reminds Nazi behavior, this is the one in Ankara: the most recent indication is the massacre of 447 civilians – asylum seekers (including children and women) by the Turkish border guards at the Turkish-Syrian border. Someone who massacres hundreds of civilians at the border must be really impudent to call Greece to “open the border and stop behaving as the Nazis did”…
3.3. The European attitude in light of the refugee and migrant issue
The fact that EU refugee policy (in particular the combination of the “Dublin II Regulation” with the “EU-Turkey Deal”) is turning Greece into a huge migrant and refugee camp and barrier restraining migrant flows to EU, gets its full meaning if seen in light of the key considerations of the foreign policy of the principal European powers. Germany in particular, apart of the high importance the refugee issue has for its domestic concerns, considers it as a critical element in a wider context.
German strategic priorities (Germany been a country with low military capacity to enable a direct interventionist policy) steadily opt for policies that favour Turkey and back its ambitions. At the same time German strategy towards the Balkans steadily enough promotes the fragmentation of the region, borders being blurred and formulas being advanced to enhance Turkish influence over it.
Starting from different considerations, the UK also adopts a pro Turkish strategic orientation, especially with regards to the Turkish aggressive stance against the Republic of Cyprus. Imperialist US foreign policy of course drastically affects the developments in the region. However in our present presentation we are focusing on the refugee issue and on the key role “Europe“ plays on this matter.
3.4. Refugee crisis and current social situation in Greece
At this point we must recall that Greece, with a population of less than 11 million, has witnessed a number of big waves of migration in the course of the last 30 years:
- Greece firstly received a total of 1 million people in early 90s originating from the Balkans (merely Albania and to much lesser extent Romania and Bulgaria) and Eastern Europe (mainly Poland, Ukraine, Russia).
- Secondly, since 2010 due to catastrophic policies jointly imposed by the EU, the ECB and the IMF (the so called Troika) and the ensuing huge unemployment rate and lack of prospect, half a million young Greek people, most of them of a highly scientific profile (doctors, engineers and scientists) have left the country migrating to EU countries, US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.
- At the same period, Greece received one more wave of almost 1 million refugees and migrants, this time originating from various countries of Asia and Africa. Almost all of them came to Greece to find their way to rich European countries. However, Dublin II Regulation followed by the EU-Turkey Deal keeps them trapped in Greece, thus creating a serious economic, social and national problem.
In this course, after 2016 the implementation by EU and successive Greek governments of the guidelines and provisions of the EU-Turkey Deal soon led North-Eastern Aegean Greek islands to be overwhelmed with migrant populations they could not handle. No other European country or region has experienced an equal situation and for sure no one would have accepted it.
As a result, a country of less that 11 million inhabitants (counting also prior migrant arrivals) which has not yet recovered from an unprecedented recession caused by the Troika policies, currently has to deal with a rising flow of migrants tallying several hundreds of thousands who have no access to employment and puts under high pressure the poorest section of the Greek population. Health and education services are underperforming and several regions are being degraded.
If we add to this, the blow to the political and moral values of the Left brought upon by the capitulation of SYRIZA and by the adoption on its part (and of a significant part of the Greek Left) of a political tendency very prompt to condemn every one reacting to this catastrophe as a nationalist and a right wing extremist, it is truly remarkable that the Greek society has been affected so little by the fascist and racist practices, surely a marginal phenomenon compared to most European countries.
4. Specific matters related to the current tense situation at the Greek-Turkish border at river Evros
4.1. Attacks and “naive” slogans
Typical scenes at the borderline at river Evros include thousands of migrants attacking the Greek border backed or occasionally pushed by Turkish army and police units. Fire bombs and tear gas canisters generously provided by the Turkish authorities are launched against the Greek police units guarding the border. Groups of persons shouting “Allahu Akbar” and waving Afgan flags of course foreshadow nothing but ominous developments. Same is true of the repeated attempts of Turkish armoured vehicles to bring down the fence at the Greek border. To all this, the Greek forces respond with exemplary self restraint. Needless to say that the decision of the Greek government to guard the border gets high scores at the polls.
Consequently under present conditions, portraying the refugee/migrant issue in abstract and exclusively humanitarian terms, demanding borders be opened (only Greek borders of course) and waving slogans as “No borders – No nations” is not just a matter of political absurdity. This sort of political attitude obviously serves EU-NATO policies and Turkey’s expansionism. Certain pro-SYRIZA and pro-globalization circles along with small trotskyite and anarchist factions who are very noisy in their assertion of a supposed rise of racism and fascism in Greece (ending up adding their voices to central themes of Erdogan’s propaganda) should recall the old good need for a “specific analysis of the specific situation”.
4.2. Cheeky and baseless accusations
Greek people are now facing an orchestrated and unfair campaign accusing them of being racists and fascists. We categorically denounce the cheeky and baseless accusation that our country and our people have all of a sudden been infected by racist ideas or have fascist inclinations. Are those “prosecutors” talking of the very same Greek people who, at a time of great suffering due to the policies imposed by the Troika, offered wholeheartedly affection and material help to the refugees all over Greece?
We remind to those who easily reproduce now Erdogan’s “humanitarian concerns” that this same people, despite their hardship, have welcomed for a long period the waves of refugees reaching the Greek shores. We remind them moreover of how the poor Greek islanders, despite been overwhelmed and outnumbered by the continuous waves of refugees and migrants, kept providing food, clothing and shelter to them month after month. Meanwhile the EU and other “humanitarians” were putting forward (always with the complicity of successive Greek governments) their plans to keep confined refugees in infamous and inhuman camps as that notorious one of Moria at Lesvos – where, in a installation made up to accommodate 2.300 people, today barely exist more than 20.000 refugees and migrants.
Furthermore, we remind to those “civilized Europeans” who dare to accuse Greece of being racist, that this spontaneous and genuine solidarity with those in need was not limited to some activists and/or NGO “professionals”: entire cities and villages came out to help. So all these would do better if instead of accusing Greece and pushing it to open its borders, put pressure on their governments to abandon their imperialistic activities, stop invading and destroying countries (which is the main driving force making their inhabitants flee and get added to the huge refugee currents). And if a demand for an immediate stop to wars and for compensating the affected countries does not seem realistic to them, they should at least ask their own governments to open the borders of their own countries to accept the refugees whose lives they destroyed.
4.3. The hypocrisy must stop!
It’s time to say that our society has reached its limits and can not anymore bear this ceaselessly rising burden of being turned into a prison of refugees (as has been designed by the Eurocracy). Our people have suffered too much and have already offered much more than any other European society.
The hypocrisy must stop, same as the accusations against our people. Ten years ago, Berlin and the Troika orchestrated a Europe wide campaign of smear playing the tune of “the lazy Greeks”, in order to legitimize the transformation of Greece into a peculiar semi-colony and to impose a massive pauperization of its people. At present, our “partners” and “neighbors” are waging one more campaign of smear, accusing Greeks of being racists. This campaign is motivated by their intention to diminish the sovereignty of our country and cripple its integrity.
5. A key point: Struggle for democracy and justice is inseparable from defence of sovereignty
For almost two centuries Greek people have been defending with determination their national and people’s integrity and sovereignty, at times against mighty invaders, and at a high cost in terms of life and material losses. Hence we have to be clear: we are not meant to be taught lessons questioning “the political correctness(!)” of our right to defend our country’s and our society’s integrity and existence; nor we accept accusations against all those defending their country as racists or pro-fascists. Εven more so, since this type of lesson is most often taught by forces, either foreign or domestic, that are closely linked and affiliated with or depending on imperialist globalism of all sorts, European or other.
As far as we are concerned, the denouncement of Turkish expansionism and the backing of our national and people’s resistance against its machinations and aggressiveness is our primary duty. And we are not meant to leave it to the hands of reactionary forces. At present times shaped as they are by geopolitical tensions and conflicts, the only viable option for the emancipation of our country and people is one that links inextricably the defence of national sovereignty to the struggle for democracy and justice, both to be vitalized by the people’s mobilization. We are striving to contribute to such a strategy in the present extremely difficult conditions. And we are sure that this aspiration of ours is relevant for the struggle of the vast majority of people worldwide.
We are asking our brothers and sisters all over the world not to compromise before this wave of disinformation and unfounded false allegations. Imperialists are trying to portray Greek people as racists and pro-fascists, thus “worth to be punished” by reduction of their sovereignty and territorial integrity – as they were “worth to be punished” by the IMF-EU-ECB Troika after they were portrayed as lazy…
We are also asking our brothers and sisters to stand against Turkish reactionary and incendiary expansionism wherever this is possible. Do not doubt: Erdogan is all but anti-imperialist or humanist, and Greece is all but a cradle of racism or fascism. The Greek people are peace-loving and do not claim the lands, the wealth or the dignity of other peoples. At the same time, they shall not accept to be stripped of their sovereignty, identity and integrity.
 “What the Turkish regime did in conjunction with the Israeli aggression makes clear to the whole world who are the supporters of terrorism in Syria” (Statement of the Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry, www.mofa.gov.sy/ar/news1170) .
 See statement by the Kurdish YPJ (Women’s Protection Units):
 Sahra Wagenknect was right to call him “godfather of terrorism” (“Der Deal mit dem türkischen Terrorpaten”, March 3, 2020, www.gruppe-wagenknecht.de).
 See the statement of KOE, “The rebellion in the islands is justified – It must become the cause of all the people and of the country” (February 26, 2020, www.koel.gr). Text under translation into English: it will be sent to you the following days.
 Report: 447 civilians killed by Turkish forces at Syrian border (March 15, 2020, anfenglish.com).
 See the statement of KOE “The migrant issue becomes a national problem” (March 3, 2020, www.koel.gr). Text under translation into English: it will be sent to you the following days.