Refugee issue: As Greece panics, Bulgaria remains calm

Refugee issue: As Greece panics, Bulgaria remains calm

Turkey’s decision not to stop the migrants as they headed towards the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders has prompted reactions by the Greek and Bulgarian Governments regarding the management of the flows.

Military units, border guards and police units have been dispatched to the two countries’ borders to protect them from an uncontrolled invasion of refugee-migration flows.

Although their initial reactions were more or less the same and were based upon a deterrent mentality, the political management appears to be completely different.

The Greek Prime Minister, resorting once again to PR stunts rather than political action, succeeded in exacerbating the reactions instead of preventing the movement of refugees and migrants towards the Greek border.

On February 26, during a press conference following the Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation Summit, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s exact words were: “I want from here in Alexandroupolis to send a clear message to those who know they are not entitled to asylum and still choose to come to our homeland: Do not come. Because the road the traffickers – whom you handsomely pay– take you does not lead to the inland of Greece and ultimately to Europe. It stops on the islands and from there starts the trip back home”.

Indeed, how many of them are aware they are not entitled to asylum when for most of them their primary concern is to save themselves from wars, destruction and death taking place in their home countries? If this is not an invitation, then what is?

As if that unfortunate statement wasn’t enough, the next one clearly shows that there is fear and panic taking over the Greek government. The Greek Prime Minister tweeted out in English regarding the refugees and immigrants gathered at the Greek border, making it clear that “no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security {…} I have informed the European Union of the situation”. Kyriakos Mitsotakis clearly states that he cannot do it alone and points to the EU briefing as a deterrent move.

Finally, in his statement Government Spokesman Stelios Petsas, against the organized, massive and illegal attempt to violate Greece’s borders, he responded that “Greece has survived by protecting our borders and the borders of Europe. More than 4,000 illegal entries were prevented”.

That is to say, in a crossing area which is completely controlled due to its small size by the security forces and the army, he considers that to be a success, while describing the battle as a banishment operation. A battle between armed and unarmed, with the first ones winning the fight.

As if that wasn’t enough, all moves made by the Greek Prime Minister concerned the EU, while he has yet to contact, according to official information, the Turkish Government. That is, he does not even touch upon the root of the problem and is left at the mercy of the intentions and solutions proposed by the EU, which has proven to be unable to help so far.

On the other hand, Boyko Borissov, avoiding communication tricks, shielded his Bulgarian-Turkish border which is about the same length as the Greek-Turkish border. In addition, the Bulgarian-Turkish border does not have the protection of a river like Evros, which separates Greece from Turkey and operates as a deterrent to crossing and thus makes it easier for refugees and migrants to cross over.

But Boyko Borissov did something his Greek counterpart didn’t; apart from addressing the EU, he is also in constant communication with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he contacted him and a meeting between them was scheduled for Monday.

Besides the contacts and the actions taken to guard the border, Boyko Borissov did not issue any PR communications to deter refugee flows, since speaking from Plovdiv today he said that no one can act with violence against women and children.

At the same time, he offered to help Turkey financially to cope with the crisis so that the refugees-migrants are not forced to leave Turkey. Finally, Boyko Borissov informed that he was preparing a large meeting in Bulgaria on the overall issue, but without disclosing further details.

Two Prime Ministers belonging to the same political family, the European People’s Party, and facing the same problem, are dealing with the refugee-migration crisis in a completely different manner. So far, the Bulgarian Prime Minister of a coalition government facing several intra-state political problems is addressing the crisis in the best way possible. The Greek Prime Minister, on the other hand, elected with a strong majority, for some reason fails to manage a crisis for which there exist previous experience. /ibna