Greek intelligence claims, that Turkey is planning to send 3,000 refugees daily to Europe in response to halting the visa-free travel initiative and freezing negotiations with the European Union.
According to intelligence officials, thousands of dinghies and motorboats have massed along the Turkish coast. The deal between the EU and Turkey on stopping the wave of immigrants is poised to unravel.
In November, the European Parliament voted for a resolution calling to freeze negotiations with the Turkish government, which persecutes the opposition and Kurdish minorities. The resolution, although not binding, has sparked threats from Mr Erdogan of opening the Turkish boarders and letting the residing immigrants into Europe.
The agreement between Turkey and the EU that was hammered out by Angela Merkel was to end the uncontrolled influx of refugees. It was concluded in exchange for the reactivation of talks on Turkey’s accession to the union and visa free travel for Turkish citizens. However, there were certain stipulations which, under the pretext of a terrorist threat, Turkey is not willing to uphold.
Now Mr Erdogan warns the EU: “When 50,000 refugees turned up at the Kapıkule border gate you cried out. If you go any further, these border gates will be opened. Neither me nor my people will be affected by these dry threats.”
The prime minister of Turkey Binali Yildrim express similar opinions, claiming that “the break in relations between the EU and Turkey will be harmful for the latter but Europe will suffer five to six times more”.
The threats and unpredictability of Turkey’s president alarmed the Greek government, which called for the assembly of Chiefs of Staff to counteract. However, the financial and social condition of Greece may leave them unable to respond to Turkish blackmail.
These are not the only inflammatory statements of Erdogan towards Greeks. The Turkish authorities also negated the Cyprus’ flag which is “shamelessly” displayed during the EU assemblies. It suggests that there is only “one” Cyprus and alludes to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus detached with the usage of the Turkish military and legally recognized only by Turkey. The problem of stabilizing the relations between Ankara and the EU member Cyprus, is yet another hurdle at the negotiating table.
The situation is worrisome not only for Greece. Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia and Hungary are already planning to erect and expand their border fences.
The Austrian’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz called for support of Italy and Greece in protecting the EU’s boarders. This indicates indirectly that Austria feels under pressure as well. Mr. Kurz believes that European nations should support these countries both financially and with human resources.
Increasingly, fewer European leaders are in favor of the fact that the stability of the refugee treaty depends on unpredictable Turkey. “I believe Turkey is too fickle and as a result we should not rely on it or be dangerously dependent on it,” said the Austrian’s minister. In his opinion, the influx of refugees can be stopped only if there is certainty that illegal immigrants would be immediately deported.
Some analysts doubt that Turkey will terminate the agreement and use immigrants as a weapon against Europe. As long as Turkey can blackmail the EU with the argument, it remains a crucial element in the negotiation process. Once triggered, Turkey presumably will not have any way back to the negotiating table.