Thousands of refugees, especially Syrians, tried to arrive on foot or by bus on Friday to the Turkish Aegean coast or to the border with Greece, to cross into Europe.
By bus or on foot … Thousands of Syrian refugees crowded on Friday at bus stations in cities like Istanbul or Edirne to try to get a transport that would take them to the border with Greece or to the Turkish Aegean coast, from where they hope to cross into the Greek islands, after Ankara announced that it opened its doors to allow refugees and migrants to cross into Europe.
Enis, a Syrian refugee who fled precisely from the Syrian province of Idlib, was among the crowd trying to get on a bus to the Turkish city of Edirne, located a few kilometres from the border with Greece. “I want to go to Europe. There are 4 million Syrians here (in Turkey). Why Europe does not want us?” he wondered as he tried to get a seat in one of the crowded buses.
“I have worked in various sectors in Turkey,” Enis told reporters covering the events at the main bus station in Istanbul. “I want to go first to Greece, and then to Europe. I have heard that 2 million Syrians are coming,” he explained. This massive influx to the bus stations began on Friday morning and continued to increase steadily throughout the day, following the announcement of the Turkish government.
In addition to heading to the provinces bordering with Greece and Bulgaria, many refugees and migrants – among whom there are numerous children – also try to reach the Turkish Aegean coast to cross from there to the Greek islands, located a few kilometres away. Çeşme, Karaburun and Seferihisar in the Turkish province of İzmir, and Kuşadası and Dikili in the province of Aydın, are their main destinations.
Europe broke its promise to help refugees and Turkey
On Friday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry warned through its official spokesman, Hami Aksoy, that the arrival of migrants and refugees to Europe from Turkey will continue if the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib continues to deteriorate.
“The latest events in Idlib have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and put even greater pressure on the migratory pressure that already existed on our country,” Aksoy said in a statement, adding that these events were also affecting many refugees who already lived in Turkey, and now consider migrate to Europe. “The risk will continue to grow if the situation worsens,” he said.
Aksoy stressed, however, that Turkey has not changed its refugee policy, since it remains in fact the country with the most refugees in the world. “There is no change in Turkey’s immigration policy,” said the Turkish foreign spokesman, who however accused the EU of not fulfilling its promises to help refugees who are in Turkey as well as the Turkish government itself, which since 2016 has prevented them from crossing to Europe.
Police, coastguards and border guards have been ordered not to intervene
It is for this reason, and given the inaction of the international community in general and European countries in particular about what is happening in the Syrian province of Idlib despite the fact that Ankara has been warning for some time that it will not be able to face the arrival of more refugees, that the Turkish government decided to announce after the Assad bombing in which 33 Turkish soldiers died that it will open the borders to refugees who wish to enter the EU.
According to the Turkish press on Friday, both the Turkish police and gendarmerie, and also the Coast Guard and border guards, have been ordered not to intervene or impede the passage of those who wanted to cross into Europe, which sparked this mass exodus of refugees, the majority Syrians, who in many cases have been waiting for years in Turkey for the opportunity to enter the EU in search of a better life.
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As a history lover, Pablo was captivated by Turkey from the first day he visited it in 2006: he got married there, has a house there… and has since become an expert on Turkey’s current affairs. With a long experience in media, he has been at the helm of hispanatolia.com since 2011, and now also of anatoliatoday.com