Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on national television that the withdrawal of thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees from the borders with Greece in Evros to the interior of his country was simply a tactical move and that once the coronavirus pandemic has ended they would be granted free passage back to the borders with Greece.
His statements effectively vindicate the Greek positions expressed from the outset of the crisis on the borders between the two countries that his country was indeed weaponising the immigrants and refugees in a coordinated manner to blackmail the EU into granting Erdogan’s government huge sums of money.
“I’ll tell you something that people don’t know yet”, he told the interviewer. “We have evacuated Pazarkule since last night, perhaps it is new information,” Mr Soylu said in a televised interview on Friday, hours after thousands of migrants had been evacuated from the makeshift camp at the Greek-Turkish border near the Greek checkpoint at Kastanies.
“We transported the refugees back to nine provinces. We will host them in deportation centres”, he continued. “The operation lasted from night to morning (meaning Friday March 27th). About 5,800 refugees have been removed from there,”, the Turkish Interior Minister said, adding: “It was a precautionary move. We had to do it. But no one should feel comfortable with it.”, he added in a tone that could be considered almost threatening. He went on to warn: “When the coronavirus pandemic is over, we are not going to deter any immigrants who want to return to the Greek-Turkish border in Pazarkule.”
“Isn’t that a policy change?” the Turkish journalists asked him about the decision to move thousands of migrants from the Greek-Turkish border back to Turkey’s interior. “No, we took this move as a precautionary measure, as a humanitarian measure” was the response of the Turkish interior minister who clearly acknowledged that both the displacement and the removal of 5,800 migrants from the Greek-Turkish plans were carried out according to a coordinated plan hatched by the Turkish government.
Turkish threat to #Greece and EU is very much alive according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu who effectively said an hour ago that #Turkey will resort to blackmailing Europe over refugees once the #Corona pandemic over, has not changed its policy at all. pic.twitter.com/qIdnvCBWxm
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) March 27, 2020
Responding to the interview, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister George Koumoutsakos commented noted that his statements could leave little doubt to those who were skeptical about the Greek claims. “Yesterday’s statements by Soylu is an answer to those who still had the slightest of doubts that the events in Evros were an aggressive plan to flagrantly blackmail Greece and Europe via a” weapon “of migrant exploitation” .
Οι χθεσινές δηλώσεις Σοιλού απαντούν σε όσους διατηρούσαν ακόμη την παραμικρή αμφιβολία ότι τα γεγονότα στον Έβρο ήταν επιθετικό σχεδίο ωμού εκβιασμού Ελλάδας και Ευρώπης με “όπλο” την εκμετάλλευση μεταναστών.
Σχέδιο που απέτυχε γιατί η Ελλάδα υπερασπίστηκε το κοινό σύνορο 🇬🇷🇪🇺. https://t.co/rxPc0JLpgq
— Giorgos Koumoutsakos (@GKoumoutsakos) March 28, 2020