Washington, DC.- (GreekNewsOnline)
Greek American organizations issued statements in support of Greece that is facing an unprecedented effort by Turkey to push tens of thousands of migrants across the border, by the Evros River. Supreme President George G. Horiates has issued the following statement:
“AHEPA staunchly backs Greece’s right to defend its borders as a new surge in migrant flows has intensified on Greece’s islands and its land border with Turkey. Greece, because of its geographic location and its 8,700-mile border, the longest in Europe, continues to bear the brunt of the burden whenever Turkey chooses to “open the gates.”
It is unacceptable for Turkey, whenever it is in a bind, repeatedly to use Syrian refugees as political pawns to pressure and threaten Europe and NATO members for their support-in this case because of Turkey’s illegal and misguided policy in Syria. AHEPA condemns the provocative rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened the release of “millions” of people going to the border and the dissemination of Turkish propaganda that has escalated tensions with seemingly no rebuke.
The migrant crisis in Greece is a crisis for all of Europe. The instability it has created is not in the best interest of the United States or the European Union. It has left the American Hellenic community and Diaspora frustrated, angry, and concerned for the stability of the region and safety of individuals affected by this crisis instigated by Turkey.
AHEPA appreciates the recent statements of support from the United States and solidarity from the European Union and European capitals. Further, AHEPA is encouraged by the engagement of Frontex and EU leadership, who will visit the border with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. However, Europe must back its words and statements with sustained action.
This is another in an endless line of provocative actions by Turkey. It bears repeating, Turkey has engaged in the purposeful transfer of migrants, which Turkey itself has displaced, and many of whom are not from Syria, to Europe’s borders in order to advance its bargaining power with Europe and the world. Turkey is not a friend of the West. It cannot be trusted, does not play fair, and certainly cannot claim any stake to international law. This is the Turkey that warranted our “Sanction Turkey” call with which the international community is dealing.
AHEPA calls for a more effective long-term policy from Europe and Turkey to control the flow of Syrian migrants to Europe in a more responsible, ethical, and humanitarian manner. AHEPA again calls for the European Union to impose sanctions on Turkey and to scrutinize its relationship with it. The West cannot continue to turn its blind eye to Turkey. Time and time again, AHEPA has made this international call to the West and will continue to do so.”
The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) Executive Director Endy Zemenides, has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stressing that “when Turkey’s actions risk destabilizing Greece, it’s more important than ever that we stand by Greece and not make its people feel that they stand alone in the face of hybrid warfare.”
In addition, HALC launched a campaign urging members of the Community to “Tell @SecPompeo that the @StateDept must speak clearly and unequivocally to #Turkey. Asymmetric warfare, weaponization of migrants, and hostage politics must be condemned. It’s now more important than ever that we #StandWithGreece” .
The effort is supported by the American Jewish Committee and its CEO David Harris. In a Twitter post, AJC stated:
AJC CEO @DavidHarrisAJC and all of AJC in standing against Turkey’s efforts to destabilize Greece, a key ally to the U.S. and Israel. We are proud to #StandwithGreece and partner with our friends @HellenicLeaders .”
The full text of Zemenides letter to Pompeo is as follows:
Dear Mr. Secretary,
As American citizens concerned with the crisis at the Greek-Turkish border, we are writing to follow up on the statement issued by the State Department to Hellas Journal regarding the crisis and President Trump’s conversation on the matter with Prime Minister Mitsotakis.
We too look for “restraint” to be exercised, but we also believe the US must be clear about the cause of this crisis: Turkey is conducting asymmetric warfare on Greece. President Erdogan admitted that he is refusing to apply Turkey’s migration accord with the EU in retaliation for the EU’s refusal to back his military campaign in Syria.
Turkey’s act of war is not due to an influx of refugees from Idlib. Erdogan is weaponizing migrants who are not even from Syria in order to blackmail Europe. These are not the actions of an ally, a humanitarian, or a responsible global actor. These are the actions of a human trafficker or a terrorist.
For that reason, we request that the State Department speak clearly and unequivocally to Turkey – asymmetric warfare, weaponization of migrants, and hostage politics must be condemned by the United States.
You have been clear about Greece’s role as a pillar of stability. At this moment, when Turkey’s actions risk destabilizing Greece, it’s more important than ever that we stand by Greece and not make its people feel that they stand alone in the face of hybrid warfare.
Endy D. Zemenides
Hellenic American Leadership Council
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) issued the following statement:
Illegal immigration via Turkey compromises Greece’s security, stability, and economic development. Greece is well within its rights to defend itself against Turkey’s threats and provocations, which have not succeeded. Moreover, Turkey’s actions to utilize migrants and refugees as geopolitical pawns are a violation of international law, and thus should be condemned by the United States and the international community.
Greece is an immensely valuable link as “a pillar of stability” in the region, is a frontline state against terrorism and is a pivotal and dependable NATO ally. The United States must address Turkey as the root cause of the region’s current instability and increased tension with the most recent example being Turkey’s escalation of the migrant crisis. AHI commends the European Commission’s acknowledgement that Greece is Europe’s “shield” and that it is Europe’s responsibility to guard the European Union’s borders as expressed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In January, the United States expressed a commitment to Greece’s security as communicated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—in public remarks and in a written letter to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last month. The United States now must meet this commitment.
Furthermore, the United States and the international community have an obligation to assist Greece and must condemn Turkey for violating international law. Turkey is a signatory of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a 1951 multilateral United Nations agreement that defines rights and procedures for refugees. The United States is a signatory to its sister treaty, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The Convention specifically states that refugees need to abide by the laws of the countries that they are trying to enter. Turkey’s instigation and encouragement of illegal mass migration and border crossings into Greece, at variance with Greek law, is a violation of the Convention to which it is a signatory.
AHI urges the Trump administration emphatically to express to Turkey that it must comply with its treaty obligations, and through diplomatic means, call on the United Nations and Europe to take more active roles in support of Greece to address the recent surge in migrant flows caused by Turkey and that threatens the sovereignty of Greece and all of Europe, as well as international laws and treaties.
URGE EU & USA TO HELP
New York Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Rhode Island Democrat Senator Leonidas Raptakis have issued the following bi-partisan statement in support of Greece:
“Every nation has the right to secure its borders. That is true for both the U.S. and Greece. Both nations have long, proud histories of showing compassion toward immigrants and refugees. However, they must also have the ability to control the flow of immigration and know who is entering their country for security, health and economic reasons.
“Right now, as a result of the escalation of a humanitarian disaster in Syria, the Erdogan regime in Turkey is acting a chaos agent—helping to unleash a flood of Syrian refugees upon Greece and the European Union.
“The U.S. government needs to oppose this action in the strongest terms possible.
“The Turkish government is essentially shredding its agreement with the EU to limit and control illegal immigration, even though the Erdogan regime has accepted well over €3 billion in aid to support this work. The EU has shut its borders north of Greece to stop the flow of migrants into other EU countries, resulting in Greece absorbing a huge flow of refugees that it cannot cope with alone.
“On the Greek islands of Chios, Lesvos & Samos, there are now more refugees than native populations. Greece is recovering from a devastating financial crisis and is being forced to carry the burden of Turkey’s reckless and irresponsible actions by itself. The EU has failed to provide Greece, a member state, with the economic, security and political support necessary to deal with this refugee crisis and to effectively stand up to the Erdogan regime’s bullying. This is a clear effort by Turkey to sow division in the EU and to weaken the organization.
“We urge the European Union members and the U.S. to work together to address this serious crisis and make clear to Turkey that it cannot continue to take steps to fuel this problem and sow chaos throughout Europe.”