May 10, 2016 - Alex Clapp

May 10, 2016
Alex Clapp

Which would you say is the more trustworthy, more respectable state: one with an increasingly authoritarian government and megalomaniac President who has started a gratuitous civil war against one of his country’s most significant ethnic minorities, seized and shut many opposition newspapers and broadcast platforms, and imprisoned dozens of political opponents…or a country with a publicly-engaged democracy, respects all basic human and civil rights, but happens to be dead broke?

For the powers who run the European Union the answer is a no-brainer.  They’re doing a huge, multi-billion dollar aid and free-entry across international borders deal with Turkey and continue to tighten the economic and political noose of Greece.

This is all about the huge migration of would-be refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan into Europe and the undeniable facts that, for most of these desperate asylum-seekers, Turkey is their jumping off point and Greece their landing point as they move from the Middle East to Europe.

To be fair, we must note that Turkey has given shelter to by far the largest share of civilians fleeing the on-going free-for-all war in Syria, roughly 2 million people, and that the route across the Aegean Sea to Greece is by far the shortest and safest way to get to Europe.

This explains why Greece is such a focal point in this story, not only as an entry point for migrants, but as the first step in the penetration of Europe by Islamic State terrorists. Three of the conspirators in the Paris bombing last November 13 are believed to have entered Europe through Greece.

It does not explain why Turkey is getting lotsa piastres and laissez-passezs from the E.U. and Greece is getting the Eric Garner chokehold treatment.

Reading Room

Free-lance journalist Alex Clapp, based in Greece and currently Macedonia, writes for, among others, Foreign Policy and The London Review of Books.

“Take a Country on the Brink. Now Add 10,000 Asylum Hearings a Week.” – Foreign Policy

“Athens, a City Scorned” – Foreign Policy

“Postcard From a Paralyzed City” – Foreign Policy




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