Lieutenant General A.A. Kambouridis for refugees: The Turks’ Plan on the Evros – which Turkey will focus on

What should the Greek side do?

The recent incident in the Evros with the trapped refugees and the discussions about possible provocation, creates 2 key questions: what is Turkey seeking in the Evros by using the refugee as a tool, as well as whether our country is vulnerable to a Turkish provocation in the Aegean or on its land borders Evros when Ankara decides to operationally use the very sensitive issue of the refugee, writes Lt. General E.A. Lazaros Kambouridis, in his new analysis.

Lieutenant General e.a. Lazaros Kambouridis is a graduate of the School of National Defense, holds an MBA from Nottingham Trend University, a Graduate of the Department of History & Ethnology of the University of Athens, and a PhD candidate at Panteion University, while he was a member of the Greek Diplomatic Mission in Istanbul in the period 1995-1999, Defense Attaché at the Greek Embassy in Ankara in the period 2013-2017.

Here’s the in-depth breakdown:

Turkey could use the refugee issue against our country politically, in order to expose our country internationally, but also operationally by creating fait accompli with mass movements of refugees in critical areas, as it attempted in the Spring of 2020. Ankara, using the refugee flows, has tried the “deconstruction” of the land border line, attempts communication exploitation in order to expose our country internationally, exploits the flows for the purpose of the passage of terrorist elements into the Greek interior, tests our reactions by causing incidents in Evros and the Aegean, while recently warning about the occupation of island space with violent mass movements of refugees. We should also keep in mind the latest statements in an online interview of the now picturesque Turkish Vice-Admiral e.a. T. Yagzi and theorist of the “Blue Homeland” Doctrine, on the occasion of the supply of our country’s defense material from the USA. Speaking with a map of the Aegean in the background, he said, among other things, “The issue ends as soon as we open the door to 5 million refugees and push them to the islands.”

The refugee in Turkey

The reactions of the Turkish society have caused a headache for the Government of the neighboring country, since in many prefectures the social reaction has reached extreme levels due to the extremely large number of refugees which threatens the income, social peace and the future of the areas where they live, with the result that some of the AKP voters turn to parties that promise solutions to the issue. Besides, one of the reasons that the Turkish President has announced a military operation in Syria with an eye on the upcoming elections, is to create the conditions for a large number of refugees to return to their homes. According to the official figures of the Refugee Agency in Turkey, 3,651,428 Syrian refugees currently remain in Turkey, while 48,958 refugees are hosted in temporary refugee centers. 98.7% of Syrians live in cities in Turkey making the problem more acute. In addition to these, an unspecified number of refugees from other countries live in Turkey in smaller numbers, but mainly Afghans, who according to unofficial sources may reach as many as 1 million. Recently the Minister of the Interior of Turkey, S. Soylu, stated that the Turkish government plan includes the return of 60-70% of the Syrian refugees to Syria. So even if the Turkish plan works exemplary (probably impossible), large populations of Syrian and Afghan refugees will continue to remain in Turkey, some of which Ankara can use against our country.

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Chestnuts 2020 – The Turkish Plan

In order to interpret the Turkish aspirations with an eye on the refugee, it is considered appropriate to mention Ankara’s planning during the border violation operation in Evros (Kastanies), in the period of February-March 2020. As is known then, Ankara tried to promote hundreds of thousands refugees in the area of ​​Evros with main effort in Kastanies (northern Evros). It became clear then that it was an organized plan of violent mass movements of refugees from areas of the Turkish coasts of the Aegean as well as from Constantinople to northern Evros. At the time, a Turkish blog controlled by Turkey’s Intelligence Services indirectly revealed that Turkey’s Plan, which was reportedly “especially liked by Turkish officials”, was to “overflow” the land border to the Evros using hundreds of thousands of refugees. , the creation of a Neutral Security Zone for refugees on the Greek side of the Evros in imitation of Turkish practice in Syrian territory near the Turkey-Syria border. This Neutral Refugee Settlement Area (according to the Turkish plan) would cause the sensitivity of the West, since the refugees heading from Ankara would not proceed south into Greek territory but would remain in the area of ​​the Greek-Turkish border, “discrediting” the border line. The excellent preparation as well as the exemplary reaction of the Greek Army and the Greek Police in the area, then prevented the dangerous Turkish Plan.

Evros or Aegean?

Since Greece created an efficient network of obstacles as well as a corresponding system of surveillance and security of the land borders on the Evros, while at the same time there is no comparable 2020 massive concentration of refugees on the other side of the Evros, the conditions do not exist for Ankara to use the refugee to carry out an operation like this in Kastanies and create a border issue in Thrace.

With the recent incident with those trapped in the Evros, it seems that the Turkish side, with the tactics of moving refugees to the sand islands of the river, has focused on a method of mainly political exploitation of the issue in order to expose our country, testing the Greek mechanisms for handling refugees . This is also the reason why the Turkish side makes sure to involve the NGOs active in the region. It should be noted at this point the increase in the frequency of statements by Turkish government officials attempting to expose our country internationally regarding the way refugees are handled.

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The problem appears to be focused mainly in the Aegean region as revealed by Admiral T. Yagzi. The Aegean and the maritime areas in general are suitable for, communicative exploitation of the refugee, support of the Turkish review positions and especially in Search and Rescue issues, exploitation of the geography of the region with the numerous launch points for the promotion of refugees from the Turkish coasts to our islands, actions of provocation etc.

Where will Ankara focus?

Attention should be paid to the issue of the possible creation of tension on the Turkish side by the violent promotion of refugees from the Turkish shores to Greek islands, micro-islands and islets whose ownership is contested by Turkey.

Mainly, however, our side should focus on the issue of the possible mass promotion and stay of refugees on the islands whose Greek sovereignty is disputed by Ankara claiming their demilitarization. Turkey has shown with the relevant rhetoric of its government officials recently, that when the conditions allow it, it will challenge Greek sovereignty in these islands in every way.

Any Turkish method of creating chaos, even by using refugee flows in an area that Ankara will aggressively focus on challenging Greek sovereignty, would serve the Turkish side operationally and make it difficult for Greek deterrence and defense mechanisms.

Because it has become clear that the Turkish side has realized that it can hardly justify to the West a military action to occupy Greek territory in the Aegean, a mass movement of refugees on an island that Turkey claims to demilitarize, would create conditions of Turkish provocation that would justify during the Turkish perception of a possible military operation.

The Greek side must:

A sophisticated image transmission network operates day and night from the border areas (land and sea) including a parallel zone of the Turkish hinterland.

It informs the International Community and the EU on a continuous basis. regarding the Turkish methods, plans and actions of massive forced movements of refugees to the Greek territory.

It closely monitors the developments and especially the decisions of the Turkish government regarding the refugee issue which affect our country.

It has a sophisticated information collection network to react promptly in case of mass movements of refugees from the Turkish hinterland to the Greek border.

It stands ready to implement relevant plans to prevent the Turkish side from using the mass flows in critical areas in order to create border issues.

It maintains active mechanisms that will be able to distinguish possible actions of Turkish provocation to create tension, using the refugee.

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