Last week the Greek Coastguard thought they had a very ‘usual’ day in trying to prevent illegal immigrants embarking from Turkey from reaching the Greek islands. However, one day last week turned out to be very different from every other day. With a boat of illegal immigrants prevented from entering Greece’s maritime space in the eastern Aegean, a Turkish coastguard approached the boat and then kept a safe distance from it in an unusual action.
Under observation from the Greek coastguard, a second Turkish coastguard arrived at the boat with illegal immigrants, with all the Turkish crew wearing medical protective suits, confirming suspicions that some of the people on the boat were infected with coronavirus.
The story was first broken on SLPress by well-respected journalist Lygeros Stavros.
In Stavros’ words “as unbelievable as it may seem, everything leads to the conclusion that the Turkish state has consciously orchestrated an indirect attack with biological warfare against Greece. Apparently, Turkey expected that – as in the past – if the ship arrived on the Greek island, the migrants would be taken temporarily to a migration center.”
In late February, Turkey launched an asymmetrical attack against Greece on the land border in Evros by facilitating tens of thousands of immigrants to try and enter Greece illegally. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had not expected that Greece would react so strongly to defend its border, nor had he expected that a wave of solidarity and assistance from the European Union would unfold. Many European countries sent their own police units to assist in protecting Greece’s borders from the Turkish aggression.
With the coronavirus spreading among the migrant camps on the Turkish side of the border, as reported by Greek City Times, the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants were bussed out from the border region and back to the cities they once lived in. However, as seen, the coronavirus pandemic will not stop Turkey’s facilitation of immigrants from attempting to enter Greece illegally.
We must remember the words of former Turkish President Turgut Özal: “We do not need to make war with Greece. We just need to send them a few million immigrants and finish with them.”
It is for this reason that Turkey will never alleviate its efforts to flood Greece with illegal immigrants, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather, the coronavirus provides an opportunity for Turkey to conduct a biological attack against Greece.
According to official figures in Turkey, the country has about 21,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, as far back as March 21 Professor Muhammed Emin Akkoyunlu said on Turkish television that coronavirus cases in Turkey could be around 145,000 people and many journalists disputing the official numbers are arrested. While Greece has effectively dealt with coronavirus to just over 1,600 cases through quick and efficient lockdowns and social distancing, pro-Erdoğan Habertürk TV were conducting debates on whether Turkish genetics protected the population from coronavirus.
Erdoğan supported terrorist forces operating in Syria to fight against government troops, forcing millions of Syrians to seek safety in Turkey. The Turkish president wants Greece to take responsibility despite not involving itself in the Syrian war. Now that Greece is effectively dealing with coronavirus and the pandemic unfortunately becoming out of control in Turkey because of inefficient governance, Ankara is once again attempting to export its problems into Greece. There is little doubt that Turkey is trying to create a coronavirus cluster in Greece’s migrant camps rather than trying to treat the infected people before sending them to Greece’s waters, clearly demonstrating Erdoğan is attempting to damage Greece as much as he can.
About six Turkish cargo ships preparing to smuggle illegal immigrants to Greek islands have been spotted by the Hellenic Navy in the past few days, according to Kathimerini.
This is a dangerous escalation because, as reported by Greek City Times yesterday, Turkey is sending illegal immigrants infected with coronavirus to Greece, likely in the attempt to create clusters in migrant camps.
Although Greece is managing the coronavirus pandemic with a high degree of success, recording only 60 new cases on Saturday, Turkey let the virus spiral out of control and recorded an increase of 3,013 cases yesterday. This is of course according to data provided by the Turkish government, with any journalist questioning the validity of this number being arrested and prosecuted by the country’s authorities.
On March 16, a cargo ship that had departed from Çanakkale in Turkey, ran aground on the island of Kea with 193 migrants.
The Greek coastguard and navy forces will ensure that no such repeat of this incident will occur again. If the Greek coastguard cannot deter the Turkish ships escorting illegal immigrants, the Greek navy will be called upon, according to Kathimerini.
However, even more recently to the March 16 events, Greece’s coastguard closely followed a Turkish tanker between the islands of Chios and Samos on Friday that was suspected of transporting illegal immigrants, forcing the vessel to return to Turkey. The Turkish captain refused to respond to the Greek coastguard and lingered for four hours before returning to a Turkish port.
It is expected that in the coming days some of the Turkish ships will attempt to enter the Aegean Sea in order to transport hundreds of migrants to Greek islands. With this information and successfully dealing with the deadly effects of coronavirus, the Greek coastguard and navy are on a high level of alert to deal with the expected crisis that could include harassment from the Turkish coastguard and/or navy.
Russia accuses Turkey of pushing thousands of Afghans, Iraqis and Africans to Greece
Russia says the immigrants are not Syrian refugees, as Turkey claims
Russia on Tuesday said that Turkey was trying to push 130,000 refugees from Syria into Greece, the Interfax news agency cited the Defence Ministry as saying.
The two thirds of these refugees – that Turkey is pushing from temporary camps in Syria – are Afghans, Iraqis and Africans, not Syrians, it added.
Since Friday’s announcement at least 13,000 people have reached the land crossing, according to United Nations estimates, under the impression they could cross the border. Most have so far been stopped by Greek police, which requested the rapid deployment of the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, to help manage a sudden surge in attempts to enter the country.
Meanwhile, the conflict between the Syrian forces and Turkish troops continue, as Assad’s army launched a powerful offensive in the town of Al-Nayrab, where a large Turkish army was stationed. Another Turkish soldier was killed and nine more injured. Ankara has said death toll of its soldiers stands at 57 Turks, though reports suggest a number that exceeds two hundred.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia on Thursday for a one-day trip amid tensions between Ankara and Moscow over escalating clashes with Syrian government forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region.