by Dr George-Nektarios Lois*
If one observes the events taking place in the last few days on the Greek-Turkish border of Evros, would reasonably wonder: why did Turkey “half open” its doors to Europe, but also why does the neighboring country shout the threat of a new, wider refugee wave? Omer Celik, a spokesman for the ruling party, said that “Turkey remains firm on its agreement with the European Union on immigration, but now our country (Turkey) can no longer contain the influx (refugees) from Idlib at its borders.” Undoubtedly, O. Celik’s statements have not convinced even the most well-intentioned listener, as it is clear that Turkey wishes, on the one hand, to secure the European Union’s active support on its trial of strength with Russia in Syria and on the other hand, to obtain extra money from Europe. Of course, the fact that Turkey’s short-term plans include the expansion of Political Islam as well as pro-Turkishism in the European arena for the benefit of neo-Ottomanism, should not be overlooked.
History, in most cases, has shown that forced migration has always – or almost always – been a major issue for peoples and nations. Controlling and manipulating the demographic composition of an area for the purpose of dominating its natural and financial resources is not just a phenomenon of the times. This is because it is a choice that confers on its creators’ control over the systematic and targeted so to speak alteration of the host nation’s identity. Thus, in order to achieve this goal, the aim is to increase the population of one group (migrants) over the others.
McGarry notes that demographic engineering is “a state-directed movement of ethnic groups, a technique of conflict regulation.” In this sense, it is a coordinated-state move to advance innocent groups of immigrants and refugees, in order to serve political, religious, ethnic, geo-strategic – as a subset of geopolitics – or even ideological interests.
Therefore, we would easily argue that Turkey is using an “old recipe” of expansion and of course blackmailing towards Europe. Just as in the Ottoman Empire, immigration and colonization played a decisive role in the development of the Ottoman state itself, so today the flow of immigrants and refugees from both war-torn and non, zones can forge in the future the politics as well as the social composition of the host country. Moreover, let us not forget that the Ottomans moved populations from Anatolia to the Balkans, sometimes by force and sometimes by the pretext of war, in order to consolidate their sovereignty. This has also been established beyond doubt by the “Muslim arc” in the Balkans, used by Turkey to promote the national interests of its neo-Ottomanism (from Libya, the “Blue Homeland” to Sarajevo). Thus, through the refugees who adhere to Islam, the Balkan Muslim enclaves will be strengthened too in favor of, of course, Turkey.
In the light of the foregoing, and in order to serve these interests, a human tragedy, a refugee drama, is now underway in Evros and the North Aegean islands. A tragedy that will not stop unless there is genuine European Union intervention in Turkey. The issue is not only Greek, but mainly European. But the question is whether Europe and its leaders are ready to confront Erdogan, who in the future – we believe – will be even more “generous” to the more than 4,000,000 refugees his country is hosting, helping most of them to reach Evros. Our position on this issue clearly arises following the latest statement by the Turkish President, who explicitly states that “in accordance with the international law these people cannot be forcibly detained in one country. These people in their own free will want to leave our country (Turkey).” And of course, as usual, we add, Turkey is always willing to help.
Turkey is clearly pursuing geopolitical and economic benefits from the migration issue. It seeks to bring the regions of Europe under better control. So, as long as Europe’s leaders avoid to directly confront the “realism” of Turkish expansionism, resulting from the political and religious exploitation of refugees, the demographic “spiral” within Europe will evolve for Turkey’s benefit. So, if there is no ceasefire in northwestern Syria, the escalation will continue to rise.
*Dr Georgios Nektarios Lois is a Historian – Slavologist
Professor of Singidunum University of Belgrade
Professor (ESA) of the Hellenic Open University