Last Thursday when Turkey threatened to open its western border with Greece, Ankara not only pointed to the 3.6 million refugees from the Syrian conflict already present in Turkey, but also threatened one million people fleeing Idlib’s hell who are piling up on the Turkish border. On the weekend he fulfilled his threat.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s blackmail with refugees on the European Union (EU) outweighs indecency. The refugees that the Turkish president threatens to unleash on Europe are fleeing a war, the one being fought around Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, which he himself is trying to prolong.
The message is clear: Turkey is making a strong move to repeat the 2015 scenario, when one million people displaced by the Syrian civil war crossed its territory to cross EU borders, triggering a humanitarian crisis in the European Union, threatening security and destabilizing politics, which therefore served as a breeding ground for the far right across Europe. It wasn’t until March of the following year that it was stopped with a check of 6 billion euros. Now Ankara’s goal is to renegotiate the 2016 agreement by getting the new compensation paid for its management not to NGOs, but to the Turkish authorities.
Scenes of Greek police detaining refugees with tear gas, harassment of some residents of the island of Lesbos against asylum seekers, reflect both the perversity of Turkish strategy and the EU’s fragility, which has been forced to use force in defiance of its principles. Everything indicates that the image of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian child drowned on the Turkish beach, was erased from the memory of Europeans.
This afternoon Erdogan and Putin meet without the presence of the European Union that must show political solidarity with Greece and Bulgaria, it has to send a message of firmness to Turkey to stop its game between NATO and Russia assuming the consequences of their unjustifiable military intervention in Syria. Finally, and most importantly, the European Union must value the spirit of its union: solidarity. He would no longer deserve his name if he did not take part in the refugee reception.