Only 24 hours after a Greek asylum committee granted asylum to one of the eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after the failed coup attempt in the neighboring country on July 2016, migrant flows from Turkey to islands of the Aegean rose again.
After the provocative threats of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, calling Greece a country that harbors terrorists, it seems that Turkey is using the migrant card to teach Greece a lesson. There are thousands of migrants and refugees on the coasts of Turkey waiting to pass into Europe and it seems that it is up to Turkey’s discretion to give the green light for them to cross the Aegean. It is as if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turns on the tap for the refugee flow to start.
The fragile deal between Turkey and the European Union signed in March 2016 in order to stop the refugee flow to Greece – and from there to the rest of Europe – remains on paper only, as the flow has never stopped completely, it has only slowed down significantly, for most of the time at least.
Still, at times when the two neighboring countries disagree, the tap opens and more migrants and refugees land on Greek shores.
Like now, right after the Turkish soldier was granted asylum, and despite the bad weather, boatloads of migrants started the short journey from Turkey to the Aegean islands. On Monday and Tuesday alone, 400 more people landed on Chios and Lesvos, adding to the already overcrowded registration centers. At a time when authorities try to decongest the camps and move refugees to the mainland.
Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has tried to buy some time by sending a petition to the asylum committee to reconsider the decision to grant the Turkish soldier asylum. The official fears that if indeed Turkey turns the tap on, then Greece will be literally flooded by migrants. This is the most dangerous weapon Erdogan holds in his hands.