Erdogan’s ‘Human Bomb’: Another EU’s Refugee Crisis in the Making?

Written by | Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Hundreds of refugees have already massed on Turkey’s border with Greece – or arrived in dinghies on the Greek island of Lesbos – after Turkish president vowed to no longer prevent their passage to Europe and keep the border with Greece open. “Hundreds of thousands have crossed, soon we will reach millions,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech. “The doors are now open. Now, you (Europe) will have to take your share of the burden.” Erdogan’s comments have prompted criticism from human rights experts who say Ankara has used the refugees as “bargaining chips” to force the EU to intervene in escalating conflict in Syria.
Turkish president started flexing muscles following the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike in Idlib, where intense fighting has already sent thousands of Syrians fleeing from their homes. The situation at the Greek-Turkish land border has worsened dramatically since Saturday (29 February), with at least 10,000 people having been taken to the Greek border by busses, free of charge, and repeatedly trying to cross the border in northeastern Greece. They have reportedly been stopped by Greek police forces who used sound grenades and teargas. The EU’s border agency Frontex is expecting “mass migration flows” that will be difficult to stop, according to media reports. It had received a request from Greece on Sunday (29 February) “to launch a rapid intervention at its external borders.”
Meanwhile, Austria has warned it will stop any migrants attempting to rush its border if measures to halt them in Greece and through the Balkans fail. The conservative Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on Sunday (1 March) that his government was assured by neighboring Hungary that “it will protect its borders as best it can, like Croatia’s,” adding that “should, despite that, people reach us then they must be stopped.” Migrants coming up through the Balkans would almost certainly have to pass through either Hungary or Croatia before reaching Austria. This rising sense of emergency in Vienna echoes Europe’s migration crisis in 2015-2016, when Austria served as a corridor into Germany for hundreds of thousands of migrants, having accepted more than 1% of its population in asylum seekers in the process.

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