Kastanies – Evros, Greece
Athina Krikelis Ellopia Press NY
Yesterday was hard – today the hardships continue. We share the agonizing worry of the local residents. How will the actions here on the Evros border of Greece affect their immediate future, our long-term future?
How will the diplomatic negotiations in Brussels change our lives? We have witnessed the desperate attempts of small groups of immigrants and refugees to cross onto the Greek side, groups who are suffering, are frightened, are literally “lost in translation.” Erdogan's plan was to create a living bullet on the Greek border, human pawns trapped within the barbed wire of the border, unable to go forward into Greece or back into Turkey. Along this front line, the Greek border patrols attempt to repel the waves of immigrants with water cannons. Fires are lit as weapons by Turkish-encouraged immigrant squads; Greek firefighters extinguish these incessant flames. There seem to be groups that have no connection with the immigrants or refugees; “freelancers” operating with the blessing and guidance of the Turkish police. We talk with the Greeks who live here, on the border in the village of Kastanies and in the near by villages. They tell us – "We are not afraid of the people across the border. We get along with them, they are “little people” just like we are. The Greek Army is here now, and there is no reason to be afraid – even when we hear the echoes of the bullets from the other side, even when the odor of the tear gas reaches our homes.” In the last ten days, the lives of these “little people” have changed from quiet and forgotten to embattled as the border is fraught with instability. These people don’t complain, because they feel as if Greece has finally come to their aid. These “little people” of Evros have welcomed the security forces. The residents offer whatever they can afford to give comfort and aid to the security forces and the journalists covering the border. Their generosity may be nothing more than bottles of drinking water or fruit from their farms, but these are precious gifts to those who are thirsty or hungry. Today we wait for Erdogan’s reaction. We have heard that he is angered by the European Union members, and by the serious dignity and responsibility shown by the Greek government. Perhaps Europe is using blackmail to end these problems, pushing for financial support to keep immigrants within Turkey. Perhaps this blackmail is enough to keep Erdogan from an extreme and negative reaction. We don’t know yet how this will end. We doubt any “happy” ending is possible. But for the human pawns within the no man’s land between the borders and for the Greeks who live here, we hope at least that the border can once again become quiet and forgotten. In the midst of this – we are all “little people.”
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