For most of March when the world was trying to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attempted to asymmetrically invade Greece with illegal immigrants.
Even though commentators say it was an attack against Europe, this ignores that Erdoğan made assurances to Bulgaria, the only other European Union country to border Turkey, that illegal immigrants would not attempt to enter its territory.
As one of the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants concentrated on the Greek border, a 22-year-old Syrian gave a startling revelation to Ethnos. The illegal immigrant gave the interview under the pseudonym of Nariz so that he could speak freely without having problems with Turkish authorities.
Nariz was informed at the end of February that the borders between Greece and Turkey “had been opened” and immediately went so he could enter Europe. Rather, he arrived at the border and saw that they were not open and ended up stuck there for 27 days.
The Syrian recounts that Greek forces were making every effort to prevent the illegal immigrants from crossing the border while Turkish police were angrily and fanatically urging them to engage violently against the Greek border protectors.
“I fled Syria four years ago because of the war. There I experienced what war means and in the end I realized that it is impossible to live in my homeland anymore. I left with the goal of getting to Europe, studying and getting a job to help my family, parents and siblings who were left behind because they could not cross the border. I have been living in Turkey for the last few years. Here wages are low and there is no recognition of our rights,” explained Nariz.
Him, like many other illegal immigrants trying to enter Europe, would make devastating decisions as many of them sold most of their belongings, believing that their coveted journey to Europe was beginning and they would need money.
Nariz then recounted how he was deceived by Turkish authorities.
“I heard in the news that the Turkish state is opening its borders to refugees. So I picked up what I had and went to the border. There I found out that the borders were opened only by the Turkish side and not by the Greek side and that Greece did not agree with this decision,” he explained.
“I stayed there for a long time, doing nothing. Without enough food and being very cold. When we started walking along the border in case we managed to find a way to go across, we received tear gas and bullets from the Greek forces so as not to cross to the Greek side,” he continued.
However, the most shocking part of the interview would come when Nariz confirmed reports by the Greek border forces and government that Turkey was inciting to the illegal immigrants to be violent on the border.
“Yes, I saw Turkish police officers telling immigrants to do incidents. They were told to throw stones and other objects. But I couldn’t videotape them doing that. It was very dangerous because they were fanatical about what they were doing,” he revealed.
Turkish authorities became too enraged at the failure of the immigrants to illegally break into Greece, that one night without warning they set fire to the camps and forced them all to leave the border region.
“Turkish police set fire to the tents while the refugees they were sleeping. They left nothing behind. The scenario at the border from beginning to end was planned by the Turkish state. On the last day, they set fire and then forced the people to leave the border. Their behavior was inhumane,” Nariz said.
But what happened after the illegal immigrants left the border?
“Everyone was shocked. They went back but nothing was the same. There were people who sold what they had to leave. They all remained at God’s mercy. Turkey did not compensate anyone. All they did was give everyone 100 Turkish lira ($15).”
Asked why Turkey thought it had pushed the world to the Greek-Turkish border, Nariz said to Ethnos: “I think because of the war in Syria, where innocent children and women are dying, Turkey has decided to open its borders, knowing that there are two million refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border who want to live peacefully away from the wars. Seeing that the number of refugees in Turkey will increase.”
However, as revealed by the Greek government, over 60% of the illegal immigrants trying to enter Greece were Afghani. Turkish propaganda attempted to justify the opening of their border because of their failed invasion attempt of Syria’s Idlib province that sparked a refugee crisis on the Syria-Turkey border.
Earlier this year, the Syrian Army began operations to liberate areas of Idlib held by Turkish-backed jihadists and the Turkish military. Turkey’s attempts to threaten and intimidate the Syrian government to stop this operation failed and only a Russian-backed ceasefire ended the battle after the Syrian Army liberated large swathes of territory in Idlib. Turkey for its efforts had over 100 soldiers killed.