March 12, 2020 

Letters to the Editor

New York Times

620 Eighth Avenue

New York, N.Y. 10018 

Dear Editor: 

The reporting of Greek-Turkish border incidents lacked truthfulness much less balance. (‘We Are Like Animals’: Inside Greece’s Secret Site for Migrants, Mar. 10). 

With the longest border in Europe, Greece bears the brunt whenever Turkey chooses to “open the gates” as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described it. However, it is unacceptable for Turkey, whenever it is in a bind of its own doing, repeatedly to use refugees as political pawns to leverage support from Europe and NATO. This recent migrant flow surge is due to Turkey’s misguided policy in Syria, as well as the West’s acquiescence to its actions. 

The facts are this: Since Friday, February 29, Greece has been subject to a sudden, massive, organized and coordinated pressure from population movements at its eastern, land and sea borders. 

Thousands have attempted to forcefully cross into Greece by land and sea. There have been no documented cases of refugees coming from Idlib, Syria. To the contrary, virtually all arrestees are other but Syrian nationality (Afghanis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iraqis, Somalis). Most of them speak Turkish, a fact indicating they have been living in Turkey for some time. 

This is an organized and coordinated operation that is encouraged and directed by the government and the authorities of Turkey through various means, including the use of disinformation campaigns from official sources and state media, the chartering of buses with covered license plates and the escorting of boats laden with irregular migrants by Turkish coastguard vessels. 

It is clearly evident these actions have been perpetrated by Turkey in order to exert diplomatic pressure and achieve political gains, both domestically and internationally. Repeated statements by the Turkish leadership, including President Erdogan himself, have been threatening Europe with the “opening of floodgates”, thus allowing this situation to develop and creating real and severe security risks for a neighbor and NATO ally, as well as the EU itself 

Turkish border Police and Coastal Guard have ceased to respond to calls from Greek and FRONTEX counterparts, in a break of a modus operandi, indicative of Turkey’s intentions. 

Due to its coordinated and massive nature, this relocation of people has nothing to do with international law regarding the right of asylum, which concerns only individual cases. These actions are happening in breach of Turkey’s obligations under the 2016 EU-Turkey Joint Statement. 

Greece unequivocally exercises its sovereign right and constitutional obligation to protect its territorial integrity. This present ploy is a threat to not only the security of Greece but of all of Europe, not to mention its public health. 

Thus, the action was taken to not accept any new asylum application for 1 month and to request the deployment of Rapid Border Intervention teams (RABITSs) by FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Raising the level of deterrence at the borders of Turkey to the maximum was unavoidable. 

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visited on March 3, the GRE-TUR land border along with EU Com.Pres.Ursula von der Leyen, EU Council Pres.Charles Michel, EU Parl. Pres Davide Sassoli and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in an important message of support to Greece’s attempts to safeguard European borders. 

Mr. Yaarub’s death is tragic. The reporting of it is one-sided and based upon speculation and questionable sources of video footage. It fails to report the root cause of the circumstances created that led to his death, which is Mr. Erdogan’s failed policies. The United States’ solidarity with Greece is also omitted. A senior State Department official stated on March 7 the migrants have been, “…misled into believing that the road to Europe is open…” 

Mr. Erdogan “opened the gates” for Mr. Yaarub and misled him to his death. Mr. Yaarub’s blood is on Mr. Erdogan’s hands. 

Respectfully submitted, 

George G. Horiates, Esq. President American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association 1909 Q Street, NW. Suite 500 Washington, DC 20009 202.232.6300 

Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe. AHEPA’s mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.