Greece and Turkey have engaged in a underreported cold war for some time, intensified by Turkey’s role as a spigot for the migrant crisis, while being the easiest land route for Middle-Eastern migrants seeking a new life in Europe.
As a result, Greece and several of her islands–most famously, Lesbos–have become makeshift refugee camps for migrants scrambling to reach a Northwestern European welfare state for a better quality of life.
Many Greek residents have reported an uptick in criminality since the hasty erection of these ill-equipped camps. Sex crimes, rapes, animal cruelty, thefts, violence, and even murders have been reported at these camps.
Greece’s chronically tanking economy has added insult to injury, with nationalist rhetoric on the rise.
Following a botched attempt to join the EU, Turkey, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic rule, has sable-rattled for a few years, threatening to turn on the spigot, flooding Europe with migrants as a geopolitical bargaining chip.
Turkey previously agreed to stem the flow of migrants in exchange for financial aid.
On Thursday, Turkey lost 33 military personnel during an offensive in Idlib, which prompted the release of migrants into Europe, intending to force the European powers’ hand into an exit from Syria.
Following the largest number of casualties suffered by Turkey since entering Syria in 2016, Erdogan, in a speech delivered in Istanbul, said, “What did we do yesterday (Friday)? We opened the doors.”
He continued, “We will not close those doors …Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”
According to The Daily Mail, the first 18,000 ‘Syrian’ migrants have crossed over near Edirne (formerly Adrianople) into Europe.
It is estimated that up to 30,000 migrants could be released into Europe by the middle of the weekend.
“We will not close the gates to refugees,” Erdogan added. “The European Union has to keep its promises.”
And Turkey is home to an estimated 3.6 million displaced Syrians.
Earlier today, Voice of Europe reported that Greece had mobilized troops, helicopters, and naval warships as a response to Turkey’s actions.
The Greek government reportedly deployed 50 naval warships to protect her besieged islands.
Additionally, 10 helicopters and troops were sent to protect its borders against the expected flows of migrants.
— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) February 29, 2020
A few days ago, in Lesbos, around 50 riot police and 10 protesters were injured after plans were unveiled to build more migrant camps.
Lesbos, although historically a Greek island, lies far closer to the Turkish mainland than Greek mainland–and many migrants see the island as a toehold into the European continent.