NATO to the rescue

Greece and Turkey are traditional enemies, yet they are both members of NATO (even though neither of them are in the North Atlantic).   This fact has finally allowed the glimmer of a plan to solve the migration crisis of Syrian and other Muslim migrants entering Europe.  Most of the migrants are coming from Turkey and crossing the narrow straits between the Turkish mainland and Greek islands such as Lesbos.  From there they have been transferred to the Greek mainland and thence they head north through the Balkan countries of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia to Hungary and Austria and thence to the “goldene medina” of Germany.   PM Angela Merkel agreed to accept 1 million migrants in 2015, but the number exceeded even that and more are poised to come once winter is over.

So finally Merkel went to visit Pres. Erdogan in Turkey and through a series of threats and promises persuaded Turkey that they should not be allowing all these migrants to be leaving Turkish shores and making the crossing to Greece.  After all, according to international law, all refugees are supposed to be registered in the first country they arrive in, which in this case is Turkey and not Greece.  So a meeting of the NATO countries was arranged for Brussels, that is just taking place and has adopted a new plan to send NATO ships to patrol the waters of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece and to pick up the small boats of migrants and transfer them back to Turkey.  That is the crucial difference now, a positive and transparent intervention of a Turkish-agreed plan to return all future migrants back to Turkey.

The plan is also to use the presence of the NATO ships to crack down on the smugglers who are behind the operation that are operating from Turkey.  The Turkish authorities will supposedly cooperate in arresting and destroying the smuggling gangs that are making money from the migrants for transporting them in flimsy boats across the sea channels, where many of them perish.  The amount paid is supposed to be from $3,000-$5,000 per person. Where do these supposedly impoverished people get this kind of money, apart from the money they need to bribe border guards further along the route?

Turkey is in a bind, since it already has ca. 2.4 million Syrian refugees from the Syrian conflict, and there are several hundred thousand more from the current fighting around Aleppo sitting on the Syrian side of the border waiting to enter Turkey.  For Turkey to also take back the migrants trying to get to Greece is a difficult choice.  This does not solve all the problems, including that of non-Syrian refugees, such as Afghanis and Iraqis, who are also fleeing war zones, as well as the stream of migrants who are entering Europe via Italy from Libya in North Africa, that consists of many Libyans and Black Africans.  But, at last a practical plan to solve the major migrant crisis is moving from the table to the real world.


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