Commentary greece in the midst of the crisis: cynicism has no future

The deal with Turkey is meant to secure Fortress Europe. But there is also another Europe, a Europe of solidarity, which gives hope.

Refugees line up for food in Idomeni. Solidarity awaits them at the end of the line Photo: ap

So, since Monday, the EU-Turkey refugee deal is now in force. And? Is this a sustainable solution in sight? It doesn’t look like it: From March 19 to April 6, 8,010 people arrived in Greece from Turkey via the Aegean Sea. 53,042 are in the country in total.

Last Monday, for the first time, 202 people were deported from the islands of Lesvos and Chios to Turkey. They are refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, India and North Africa who had not applied for asylum so far. Two Syrians have themselves requested to be sent back to Turkey for family reasons. On the same day, 339 refugees arrived in Greece from Turkey.

All this is happening despite the presence of NATO and despite Turkey’s duty to curb the influx of refugees. This record alone shows how cynical the new agreement is.

The deal is designed to get Greece to de facto declare Turkey a "safe third country," something the EU itself cannot do. But how safe and human rights compliant Turkey is, I know not only from newspaper reports. A few weeks ago I was in Diyarbakır in the southeast. There, due to a senseless curfew, Kurds and Kurdish women are murdered daily by Erdogan’s regime – mainly women and young people. As confirmed by the "TIHV-Human Rights Foundation of Turkey" and the Turkish party HDP, more than 492 civilians were murdered in Cizre, Silopi, İdil and Sur from August 2015 to February 2016, 87 of them are children.

I have met mothers and fathers there who are forbidden to bury the bodies of their children who lie in the streets for weeks. Erdogan’s regime is providing the fuel for a lasting civil war in the region, the consequence of which will be, among other things, new flows of refugees.

The EU is acting purely ideologically

With this pact, the EU has brought forward a "solution" that has nothing to do with addressing the root causes. Just as the motivations for the pact have little to do with Europe’s values. Rather, the neoliberal European Union is now again acting purely ideologically. Just as it did during the euro crisis, which was instrumentalized to establish austerity policies across the EU.

After the NSU was exposed, the motto was: never again. In Freital, Saxony, it seems to be happening nonetheless – a right-wing terrorist group is emerging. You can read how it could come to this in the cover story of wochenende from April 9/10. Also: Why the gay Iranian writer Payam Feili is seeking asylum in Israel. And: Beer researcher Gunther Hirschfelder explains why we still cling to the 500-year-old Purity Law. At the kiosk, eKisok or in the practical weekend subscription.

The refugee issue serves as an excuse to expand "Fortress Europe." A fortress where capital and goods know no borders, while people fleeing war, hunger and environmental catastrophes encounter war fleets and barbed wire fences. Achievements such as the Geneva Convention on Human Rights are to be removed as burdensome obstacles, just like the welfare state, collective agreements or social justice and redistribution.

But there is another Europe – the solidary and hopeful one. It shows in the face of the Greek government, which tries with minimal means to create decent living conditions for the refugees. In the face of a broken Greek population that in the last 15 months has rescued, supported and welcomed more than a million people. In the face of the thousands of volunteers from all over Europe who help people in Lesbos or Idomeni. In the faces of Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, and Bodo Ramelow, prime minister of Thuringia, who volunteered to take in refugees from Greece.

Merkel said on March 18 after the EU-Turkey summit that "Europe will manage …". I agree with her. However, it will not happen in her sense, but in ours. Europe will be solidary and social – or it will not be!

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