As COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in Turkey, a second surge of illegal immigrants is expected to start heading to Greece from Turkey. The information comes from a confidential report authored by the European border protection agency Frontex: “The restrictions on Covid-19 have been gradually lifted in most Aegean provinces, but not yet in Dardanellia, Constantinople and Smyrna. If freedom of movement is restored in these areas, massive movements of migrants towards the Greek-Turkish border can be expected.”
In February and early March tens of thousands of illegal immigrants attempted to cross from Turkey into Greece. The Greek-Turkish border area was under siege and dissolved into near chaos. Turkish troops fired on Greek police, and there were instances of Turkish soldiers actually trying to bring down the border fence. Then the pandemic came and brought a respite to the simmering border. The Turks transported the illegal immigrants back inland to refugee camps.
Now that conditions are starting to improve inside of Turkey, expect Ankara to begin moving the migrants soon. Practically speaking, Turkey cannot afford to keep them around for very long. The Turkish economy is presently on the ropes. The lira is at an all-time low against the dollar, and a number of the country’s largest banking institutions are precariously close to bankruptcy. Then there are Turkey’s foreign adventures to take into account. Syria is quiet for the moment, but as the pandemic withers out, this will not remain so. The same holds true for Libya, another area where Turkey has become heavily invested.
As far as the border situation goes, Greece had been preparing to move 400 additional police officers to the area before the pandemic forced the cancellation. Those plans appear to be back on now.