Up to 20,000 Turkish citizens came to Greece in only 4 years, 9,000 sought political asylum


At least 18,000 to 20,000 Turkish opposition members and citizens arrived in Greece in the last four years and 9,000 of them have sought political asylum.

Most live in areas of downtown Athens, seeking the opportunity to leave for Germany or another European country.

The arrival of a sailing boat in Kouremenos Bay in Sitia on Sunday morning from Turkey with eight passengers (five men, a woman and two children), who declared themselves Gülenists, is just one of hundreds of similar incidents.

The arrival of Turkish citizens on January 10, when a sailboat arrived in Sitia with five men, a woman and two children, who declared themselves to be Gülenists.

Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic preacher that was once allied with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but now lives in exile in the U.S.

A few months ago, another 26 Turks arrived in Chios and said they were being persecuted by the Erdoğan regime, while a few hours later another boat off the coast of Zakynthos capsized which had 75 people who were also of Turkish origin.

On Wednesday, another batch of Turkish citizens arrived in Rhodes, seeking asylum.

These recordings are only a small part of the flow of Turks to Greece considered enemies of Erdoğan.

Among them, of course, are the eight Turkish soldiers who crossed into Greece - by helicopter that landed in Alexandroupolis - the day after the coup and who remain under guard in an area of ​​Attica.

Following the 2016 coup attempt, the purge involved more than 45,000 soldiers, officials, police, judges, commanders and civil servants who were arrested or dismissed, including 2,700 judges and 163 senior armed forces officers.

In addition, according to a report by the Stockholm Freedom Center, 96,719 teachers and academics were expelled from Turkish educational institutions, with 20,000 of them ending up in prison.

In order to understand the mass exodus to Greece, it is noted that in 2015 the arrivals of Turks to Greece was only 182 and in 2014 only 73.

In 2016, it reached 313 and in 2017 it reached 2,738.

In fact, in 2018 there was a further tripling with 8,898 Turkish citizens crossing the Greek-Turkish sea and land borders.

In 2019, 8,017 arrivals were recorded, with their number decreasing for the first time after four years in 2020, due to COVID-19. However, Greek authorities also consider important the number of people entering the country without being detected/recorded.

It is noteworthy, however, that in 2016, 172 Turkish citizens were repatriated to Turkey, 177  in 2017 and 348 in 2018.

For 2019-2020 there is no relevant data available.

Respectively, in 2013 in Greece, 17 Turks applied for political asylum, 41 in 2014, 42 in 2015, 189 in 2016, 1,826 in 2017, while in 2018 the number reached 4,425 and 3,795 in 2019.

In other words, it is established that 40% -60% of Turkish citizens in Greece applied for political asylum.

Almost all of them are released after submitting applications, but most do not show up for interviews (80% -90%), as their goal is to leave for other European countries.

Meanwhile, the number of Turkish citizens estimated to have been granted asylum in Greece in the last five years is about 2,000.

These are mainly families that have "rooted" in Greece, many of whom have opened stores or work in the private sector, their children go to Greek schools and so on.

Most of them are former teachers and civil servants who have been fired either on charges of having links to Gülen's movement or as anti-government activists.

Fethullah Gülen gulen asylum
Fethullah Gülen.

The Greek police and intelligence service are concerned about whether there may be Turkish secret service agents among those who claim to be Gülenists.

It is worth noting that, according to secret documents brought to light by the Nordic Monitor network, in April 2020, a significant intrusion of Turkish intelligence agents was recorded Greece.

The main target of the Turkish secret services, however, seems to be the recording of Gülenist networks.

Vassilis Lambropoulos is a correspondent for In.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor