European Union: Closing the Borders?

by Judith Bergman

  • Even Germany is unwilling to take any of the migrants shuttled by Erdogan to the Greek-Turkish border.
  • “I thank Greece for being our European ‘aspida’ [the Greek word for shield].” — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, March 3, 2020.
  • The “solidarity” with Greece expressed by leading EU representatives seems to have come from having no alternatives other than relying on Greece to struggle with the situation.
  • Even if the EU manages to resolve its issues with Erdogan, which is doubtful and bound to be only temporary, Europe’s fundamental problem will remain: As long as migrants think that a better future awaits them in Europe, the welfare states, which have shown themselves extremely accommodating in receiving migrants and granting them all sorts of social rights, can continue expecting migrants to try breaching Europe’s borders.

On February 27, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made good on his many threats to send millions of migrants and refugees to Europe, despite a 2016 deal between Europe and Turkey to hold them. Apparently seeking to make Europe experience the full force of his intentions, Turkish officials sent busloads of migrants — predominantly young men from Afghanistan and Iran, according to several reports — to Turkey’s border with Greece.

“We prepared a plan with our colleagues and we are committed to arranging free buses for the refugees in Bolu towards the border town of Edirne,” said Tanju Özcan, the mayor of Bolu, a town in northern Turkey, 550 kilometers from the border with Greece. “Refugees willing to go to Edirne can apply to the Bolu municipality and its branches. We are ready to assure the transport whatever the number [of refugees].”

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In November, Erdogan had also threatened to release ISIS prisoners into Europe. Whether the migrants Erdogan sent to the border with Greece at the end of February currently include terrorists is not known. Migrating terrorists, research has shown, are a serious issue that seems to receive only scant attention in Europe.