WASHINGTON, DC — 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 acknowledgment 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.