Following the military escalation between the Russian-backed Syrian army and the Turkish regime, combined with announcements from Turkey that it would be making good on previous threats to flood Europe with migrants, Greece has completely sealed off its border with Turkey.
Greece sealed its key land Kastanies border crossing with Turkey Friday after Ankara declared it’s allowing refugees to flee Idlib and on to Europe for at least 72 hours, in response to Syrian-Russian airstrikes killing 33 Turkish troops Thursday.
Germany’s Bild newspaper reported Friday that Greece is taking further emergency measures to prevent Erdogan from effectively “opening the gates” on new waves of refugee and migrant hordes seeking entry to the EU, noting the country “completely closed off its borders with Turkey: not just for refugees, but for EVERYONE.”
The Greek government has deployed fifty navy warships to protect the Greek islands and ten helicopters to guard land borders against foreign invaders sent by the Erdogan regime, German daily tabloid Bild reports. The army has been called to the northern border.
The seemingly drastic moves come after a veiled threat made by the spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling AKP party, Ömer Celik, who earlier had alluded to the fact that Turkey’s borders to Europe could be opened.
“Our refugee policy remains the same, but here we have a situation. We can no longer keep the refugees,” Celik said.
Although the Turkish government hasn’t made an official statement announcing that the border has been opened, a source told journalists from the news agency Reuters that all Turkish border guards, coastguards officer, and police had all been ordered to stand down, Voice of Europe reported.
Turkish journalist Ragip Solyu wrote on Twitter that the Turkish border would be open for the next 72 hours to any and all migrants who would like to make their way to continental Europe.
Turkish TVs broadcast footages showing migrants are boarding boats off Turkish coast, departing to Greek islands pic.twitter.com/YLMEM1lCMk
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) February 28, 2020
And The Guardian reported further early Friday: “Hundreds of Syrian refugees in Turkey have begun preparing to travel towards the country’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria after Ankara’s sudden decision to no longer impede their passage to Europe.”
“Turkish police, coastguard and border security officials were ordered to stand down overnight on Thursday, Turkish officials briefed reporters,” the report added.
As European officials mull whether this is but more of Erdogan’s threats or perhaps an early “taste” of what’s to come, or whether the flood has begun, Bulgaria has begun taking extra security action as well, bolstering patrols along border areas with Turkey
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis vowed that “no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated” – noting greatly tightened security along the EU’s external borders