Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020

Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis

A new refugee crisis has erupted on the Greek-Turkish border. The trigger for this has been the conflict between the regimes of Turkey and Syria, backed by Russia, in the disputed Idlib region of Syria.
There, the deaths of 34 Turkish troops, reportedly from a Russian airstrike, saw Turkey's president Erdogan respond by ramping-up the country's military intervention. At the same time he's pressuring the EU states and Nato military alliance into supporting Turkey's occupation by threatening to open its borders to allow an estimated four million refugees to cross into Europe.
A tentative ceasefire has now been agreed between Erdogan and Russian president Putin, but the ongoing Syrian conflict threatens to reignite at any time this regional military, political and humanitarian crisis.
In the following article, reproduced here from the CWI website, Alex Gounelas explains the refugee crisis as a failure of capitalism and advances a socialist programme for solving it.
photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)

photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Nowhere is the failure of the EU institutions to bring about genuine 'unity' of the continent, or the arguments of pro-EU politicians more exposed than in the current refugee and migrant crisis in Greece. Thousands of desperate people - many of whom have gone through five shades of hell to escape wars, oppression and desperate poverty, to reach foreign borders - are used as political pawns by Turkey, Greece, other European governments, populist politicians and nationalist and fascistic elements.

The real character of the EU was shown by the president of the European Commission, standing on the Greek-Turkish border and declaring that "Greece is Europe's shield", and then hypocritically saying she had "compassion" for those at the border.

The Greek government announced it will no longer process applications from migrants arriving on its shores. It intends to build a series of holding camps by the end of March, each to contain 20,000 migrants. Proposals for where these should be built includes uninhabited islands. Access to healthcare has been denied to the migrants and reliance is put on charities to provide basic help.

Police attacks

Heavy-handed tactics by Greek police have been exposed in the last few weeks, including boats of desperate people being shoved back to sea.

On the islands of Lesbos and Chios, police were filmed battering locals, smashing car windows and throwing teargas at houses. Video footage of a Greek man harassing a pregnant migrant woman is widely viewed on social media.

On 2 March, 1,000 mainly Afghan asylum seekers marched from Moria to Mytilini town, shouting "azanti" (freedom). There was also a demonstration of Greek locals, who clashed with the police.

The scale of the crisis has reached epic proportions. On 2 March, within a 12-hour time frame, 4,354 people tried to cross the Turkish border at Evros. From Saturday 29 February to Monday 2 March, over 24,000 attempted to cross the border. Around 183 people were arrested. Over 40,000 still await an answer on their asylum applications.

The islands have been descending into a form of occupied territory, where the police, in gang-like fashion, make up the rules as they go along.

Turkish invasion

The Turkish invasion into northern Syria, as well as the military actions of Russia and Syria, have led to the escalation of the crisis. Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan, and other countries torn up by imperialist interventions and local despots, are creating millions of displaced people.

The US Trump administration effectively offered Erdogan a 'green light' both on the Kurdish question and now that of the Syrian border issue.

After receiving large subsidies totalling €6 billion from the EU, in order to accept and contain huge numbers of migrants and refugees, Turkish President Erdogan, is now backtracking. He is also cynically proposing the settlement of migrants into Kurdish areas in an attempt to change their ethnic composition.

The majority of the Greek capitalist press scrambles about trying to push the blame onto the governments of other countries, in a plea for them to do their 'duty' towards the EU establishment.

Meanwhile, most of the left in Greece seems to be sticking to a vague 'open border' policy, accusing anyone who does not agree with this position (which fails to take into account the concrete action needed to aid refugees and migrants, while allaying fears amongst Greek workers and the poor) of being 'fascist'.

Neither of these perspectives has credibility among the majority of Greek people. This is especially the case for those living on the islands and border areas who have also seen their communities devastated by the vicious austerity hoisted upon them by both New Democracy and the supposedly 'left' Syriza government.

There are, of course, no easy solutions under capitalism, where war and economic crisis spiral indeterminably. What is needed urgently are immediate and clear demands from the left on what is to be done in the affected areas but also on a national level.

The international workers' movement must clearly call for an end to attacks on refugees and immigrants by the Greek state and fascistic gangs.

The workers' movement in Greece must organise democratically run defence committees, in local communities and workplaces, and protest against EU anti-refugee policies that can divide and weaken the working class.

The CWI calls for:

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 11 March 2020:


Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now

Coronavirus infects the world economy

Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn

Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition

Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits

For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets

Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it

Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic

South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief


Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services

News in brief

Workplace news

Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot

Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay

Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse

Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining

Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management

Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"

Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network

East London uni and bin worker strikes

US election

How can Trump be ousted from the White House?

Campaigns and party news

Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises

Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts

Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?

Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests

Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson

Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story

Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'

Student occupation in support of striking workers

Selling the Socialist

Socialist Party executive committee positions

International news

Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis

Women's and trans rights

Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement

Readers' opinion

Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

The Socialist Inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 11 March 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleGreece elections: Syriza ousted amid voter disillusionment

triangleDeadly fires ravage Greece: austerity contributed to high loss of life and property

triangleObituary: Ged Travers 1957-2018

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Greece - still plundered by EU austerity

triangle2018: more upheavals loom


triangleNuclear Folly: A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

triangleTurkey: Bogaziçi university students protest appointment of government loyalist as rector

triangle'Frozen conflict' reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave

triangleSolidarity with Turkish workers


triangle"Rights are won not given" - London refugee wins housing debt campaign

triangleFight for jobs and homes for all - defend the right to asylum

triangleJavid's migrant 'emergency'


triangleCovid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic

triangle2020 - a year which drove home the catastrophic failures of capitalism


triangleThe 'winter of discontent' - When workers could take no more


triangleAfghanistan disaster - Unite to fight for funding for refugees and local communities





London protest for Texas abortion rights



German election: A change of capitalist government, but disaster for Die Linke


Climate change

CWI livestream rally report



German general election



Libya - ten years after Gaddafi's overthrow



US Supreme Court refuses to challenge Texas abortion ban



Keep fascists out of Portland: Build a mass movement to fight the right



Reflections on the Lebanese tragedy one year on



SNP-Green deal will not deliver for workers and youth



Nigeria: Comrade Omomeewa, student leader and socialist campaigner, killed by armed assailants



Afghanistan in crisis:



Afghanistan: The Taliban takeover - what are the lessons for the workers' movement internationally



Beirut's devastating port explosion one year on



In brief: News, reports & analysis from the CWI



Israel: Hospital ancillary workers' strike suspended

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021