Posted by On 6:48 PM

War of words between Greece and Turkey escalates

War of words between Greece and Turkey escalates


The Greek Prime minister’s office responded strongly on Sunday to comments made earlier the same day by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding separate cases involving Greek and Turkish soldiers.

ErdoÄŸan had complained about both Greek and the European Union demands that two Greek soldiers held by Turkey be released. The pair were arrested at the start of March after crossing the Turkish border, apparently after becoming lost in bad weather. ErdoÄŸan noted that Turkey was still awaiting the return of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece by helicopter in the immediate aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The Greek statement referred to an, “incomprehensibly slip pery road of provocative attacks” and stated that, “Greece is a state of Law and has a Prime Minister who respects and acknowledges the procedures of Greek justice, not a Sultan who would be able to issue promises on (justice’s) decisions.”

The statement continued, “If the Turkish President had something to say about the affair of the eight (Turkish soldiers), he had the chance to say it both in private to the Greek Prime Minister and publicly during his recent visit to Athens. Today he chooses to continue an incomprehensibly slippery road of provocative attacks, counterbalancing two entirely dissimilar cases.”


Sert cevap: “Yunanistan’ın BaÅŸbakanı var, Sultanı deÄŸil!” | Ahval Thumbnail Turkish journalist shares experience of sexual harassment Thumbnail PKK “still a threat” after Sinjar withdrawal â€" Arab WeeklySource: Google News Greece | Netizen 24 Greece


Posted by On 6:48 PM

UNHCR Greece Factsheet - February 2018

02 Apr 2018 UNHCR Greece Factsheet - February 2018 Reportfrom UN High Commissioner for Refugees Published on 28 Feb 2018 â€" View Original preview Download PDF (478.96 KB)

This month 530 people arrived by land and 1,300 by sea. Conditions in some island reception centres improved slightly as a result of authorities’ increased measures, reduced arrivals and ongoing transfers of those authorized to mainland sites and apartments. There, UNHCR provides 22,000 places in rented housing through municipalities and NGOs. However, protection risks remain high for those on the islands. This includes the risk of sexual violence, particularly fo r women and children. UNHCR urged action with specific measures.

Working with Partners

â–  UNHCR supports the Government of Greece who leads the refugee response. The Office works with other UN agencies, international and national NGOs, regional and state institutions, community-based organizations, refugee and host communities through sectoral Working Groups at the national and field levels.

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Source: Google News Greece | Netizen 24 Greece


Posted by On 6:48 PM

Yanis Varoufakis: 'Greece is a debtors' prison'

Yanis Varoufakis The Observer Interview Yanis Varoufakis: ‘Greece is a debtors’ prison’ By Helena Smith in Athens

The maverick former finance minister is in fighting mood as he launches his new party, MeRA25

Yanis Varoufakis
Yanis Varoufakis announcing the launch of his new party, MeRA25, in Athens on Monday. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Yanis Varoufakis is back. He, of course, would say he never went away, but in Greece’s hurly-burly world of politics his is a name prone to triggering toxic reaction.

Abroad, the shaven-headed economist is feted as the man who took on Europe’s est ablishment. At home, the former finance minister is seen, on both left and right, as a reckless incarnation of all that was wrong with Greece at the height of its struggle to remain in the eurozone. In Athens and Brussels, his confrontational style is still blamed for the price the debt-stricken country had to pay to be bailed out in the summer of 2015.

Although his resignation now seems a long time ago, the sight of Varoufakis launching his own party in Greece has unleashed emotions that have run the gamut from enthusiasm to anger and disdain. Media reaction has been cool; so, too, has that of politicians. None of which seems to bother him in the least.

“Nobody believes the systemic media in Greece, and they’re all bankrupt,” he told the Observer with typical defiance, days after announcing his new venture in a packed Athens theatre. “To those who say I cost the country, and I’ve heard €30bn, €86bn, €100bn and even €200bn… I say I cost exa ctly zero. The troika [of creditors] cost Greece two generations and continue to impose cost.”

Alexis Tsipras and his colleagues… have condemned Greece to debt and bondage for another 30 years

At 57, in his leather bomber jacket and boots, Varoufakis clearly relishes his anti-establishment role and believes the birth of his European Realistic Disobedience Front, AKA MeRA25, is not a moment too late. Greece, almost nine years after the eurozone crisis erupted, is still condemned to being a debtors’ colony, he says. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras, and his once radical leftwing Syriza party, not only gave up the good fight; they signed up to the draconian austerity demands of Germany in exchange for a third bailout that has only exacerbated the nation’s plight. For Varoufakis, it was a huge political â€" and personal â€" betrayal.

“I think Tsipras and his colleagues have seriously let themselves down. They are young people, and they have to walk the streets knowing that they have condemned this country to debt bondage for another 30 years,” he says. “I am probably the only one who did what they said they would do.”

Bankruptcy and Greece’s battle to keep it at bay was the force that prompted the academic to go into politics in the first place. On Monday, it was still the force that propelled him on to the stage to announce MeRA25, founded with the express purpose of not only reclaiming democracy but stopping Greece’s inexorable slide into further debt serfdom and insolvency.

In a political landscape that veers from the extreme left to the extreme right, Varoufakis believes there is room for impact. “Our target is the 1 million Greeks who don’t abstain from voting due to apathy but because they are highly politicised. It’s another unique phenomenon in this country.”

Under the party’s programme, on day one banks would be nationalised and proposals advanced to radicall y reduce Athens’s staggering debt load â€" at about €320bn or 180% of GDP, by far the highest in the EU. “I wake up, and dream at night, of debt [relief]. It’s like being a prisoner of war. You have to try to escape. Our country is a debtors’ prison.”

Part of the pan-European DiEM25, or Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, that he co-founded two years ago, this new grassroots alliance of leftwingers, progressives, feminists and greens already has a reported 7,000 members.

DiEM25, which is active in seven countries “but spreading fast,” reportedly has more than 100,000 members and the endorsement of the likes of Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, the radical linguist who via video link on Monday described MeRA25 as “a beacon of hope in a troubled world”.

But does Varoufakis mean trouble for Greece? After all, the new movement has set itself the not inconsiderable goal of dismantling Europe’s “toxic, class-oriented, powerless and discredited” es tablishment by 2025. At the height of the debt crisis, Varoufakis claimed the austerity measures Athens was being forced to apply were tantamount to “fiscal waterboarding”.

Far from being anti-EU, or in favour of the bloc’s break-up, Varoufakis insists supporters want more of it. “We are radical Europeanists, we are in the EU but against this EU,” he says. “We are not proposing exit or disbandment. We are not recoiling into the bosom of the nation state. We want to see Europe democratised, not disintegrated.”

The self-declared “erratic Marxist” has long argued that without reform, the continent is heading for trouble. Already the bloc has begun to breed monsters. The far right, xenophobia, racism are all in the ascendant. Stuck in its own Great Depression, Greece makes fertile ground for such malaise. “Europe must be saved from itself. If [Golden Dawn] hadn’t been such thugs,” he says referring to the nation’s own neo-Nazi party, “it would b e 30%, not 10%, now.”

MeRA 25 has been working behind the scenes for a year now. Its plan is to contest the European elections in May 2019, although Varoufakis acknowledges Tsipras may elect to call a general election before that. After almost a decade under international surveillance, Athens will exit its third international rescue programme â€" the biggest sovereign bailout in global financial history â€" in August.

Macedonians protest against name change deal with Greece Read more

With his popularity compromised under the weight of enforcing measures he once vehemently opposed, Tsipras may opt to capitalise on the success of finally exiting the programme and economic oversight. “We have travelled the whole country and held rallies in all major towns,” says Varoufakis, adding that politicians are already expressing interest in jumping ship.

Far from being saved, Varoufakis believes Greece’s future has been put on hold. If anything, he ar gues, it is in for an even tougher time because Europe has elected to tackle its debt problem by taking the “extend and pretend” approach of prolonging repayment timetables and condemning the country to decades of further austerity. More pension cuts and tax hikes loom, legislated by MPs at the behest of the EU and International Monetary Fund.

Short of measures to stop the rot, Varoufakis quips that he sees Greece becoming another Kosovo, “with beautiful beaches, only it’s a protectorate emptied of its young people. Every month 15-20,000 young Greeks leave. Everywhere I go, I meet them.”

At the University of Athens, where he has returned to his old teaching post, students line up to get references for menial jobs, he says. It’s outrageous, he counters, that the government should choose to “celebrate” what it calls an almost seven-point drop in unemployment when the uglier truth is that so many people are leaving the country for wealthier climes.

Up close, Varoufakis is still all swagger and in chipper mood. But whether he can capitalise on Syriza’s losses is far from certain. At the last election â€" the first he contested as an MP â€" he won more votes than any other candidate on Syriza’s ticket. These days, Greeks have less appetite for confrontation.

Forever the maverick, Varoufakis announces that he doesn’t really mind. He always has “a book on the boil” and, anyway, he never wanted to be a minister.

“You have no idea what it is like to be on the receiving end of such toxicity,” he says, suddenly looking pained. “For me, personally, the worst thing that could happen is to go back to a parliament that is so distressing, unproductive and boring.”

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Source: Google News Greece | Netizen 24 Greece

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Posted by On 6:48 PM

Greece: 58 Migrants Rescued off Greek Island in Aegean Sea

  1. Greece: 58 Migrants Rescued off Greek Island in Aegean Sea U.S. News & World Report
  2. Supporting refugees in Greece: €180 million in emergency support EU News
  3. Greece says Turkey may be holding two soldiers for political gain Reuters
  4. Greece to get additional $222M for migrant accommodation in cities Daily Sabah
  5. Full coverage
Source: Google News Greece | Netizen 24 Greece


Posted by On 11:19 AM

Trans refugees fled to Greece for a better life. They found intolerance.

On a mild night in early May last year, Asma boarded the metro for her daily ride from the residential neighborhood of Agios Nikolaos to downtown Athens. She’s a trans refugee from the Middle East whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

Before she could get off at her stop, however, she was assaulted by a passenger. “He was maybe 20 years old and with his girlfriend,” says Asma, 24, who asked us not to reveal her nationality. During the short 15-minute ride, the man continued to look at her aggressively and started yelling in Greek. Finally, just before her stop, the man approached her. “He was very angry and tried to hit me.”

Fahrinisa Campana for Vox

“I feel like here is the same as the Middle Eastâ€"Greece is not the paradise we imagined” -Asma, 24

Asma’s everyday life in Greece has been punctuated by verbal and often physical assault, and Asma now goes to great lengths to avoid the metro, often walking for hours to reach her home. Though using the metro would mean a much shorter travel time, it leaves her unable to escape a potential attack.

Asma is not the only transgender refugee in Greece who has been assaulted recently. That same month in 2017, two were attacked on the island of Leros, an incident that left one woman hospitalized in critical condition.

Since 2015, more than 1 million refugees fleeing war, persecution, and economic devastation have migrated from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to Europe. Most enter the region through Greece and Italy before heading to central Europe within days or weeks of their arrival.  Greece’s shaky economic situation, lack of job opportunities, and poor camp conditions left few refugees wanting to make Greece their new home. 

But in March 2016, the closure of the Macedonian border that divides Greece from Central Europe disrupted the migrants’ path out of Greece. Now, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 50,000 refugees and migrants from the Middle East and North Africa remain stranded in Greece, struggling to survive, their vulnerability increasing with each passing day.  

Migrants protesting poor living conditions block the entrance of the Hellinikon camp in Athens on February 6, 2017, during a visit by the Greek immigration minister.
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

A number of these refugees also belong to the LGBTQ community. These people fled their homes not just to escape the war but to flee persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In their home countries, trans individuals face the threat of lengthy jail terms, torture, rape, and even murder.

“Being queer in this world is lonely,” says Moira Lavelle, a founding member of LGBTQI+ Refugees Welcome in Greece, an organization based in Athens. “Being an LGBTQI+ refugee in Europe, in Greece, is dangerously lonely.” The exact number of trans refugees in Greece is hard to estimate â€" many are uncomfortable identifying themselves to refugee organizations. 

Refugee families protest delays in reuniting with their relatives in other European count ries on November 3, 2017, in Athens.
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

For transgender men and women, their arrival in Greece should mean they are finally able to express their true identity. In early October, the Greek parliament passed a new law that eliminates the requirement that trans people undergo gender-affirming surgery before their gender is legally recognized. This was a victory for trans rights, making everyday chores that require an ID accessible to trans people who might not be able to afford or access surgery, or who might not want it.

Still, this new law was passed amid much opposition, and, according to one poll, more than half of Greeks remain opposed. Many trans refugees are encountering a culture far less accepting of their gender identity than they were expecting.

Over the course of more than six months, we interviewed and documented the lives of several members of the trans refugee community in Athens, including five trans women from the Middle East and North Africa. All names have been changed to protect their safety.

Asma, 24, nationality withheld to protect her identity

Asma has been in Greece for just over one year, and the metro attack in May was not the only abuse she has faced. Spat at and verbally harassed almost whenever she leaves her house, Asma feels that every day she endures a new psychological scar. “I feel like here is the same as the Middle East â€" Greece is not the paradise we imagined,” she said.

From a very young age, Asma felt she was a girl, and she recalls resenting her parents for forcing her to wear boys’ clothing. As a minor, Asma became involved in a relationship with her male schoolteacher â€" a relationship that could have cost them their lives if exposed.

The danger of exposure did not lie in their age difference, which is not uncommon in countries in the region, though Asma would have been below the ag e of consent. The danger was in engaging in a queer relationship.

Fahrinisa Campana for Vox

The couple fled to Syria, where Asma was able to register as an LGBTQ refugee with the UNHCR and received hormone replacement therapy to start her transition from male to female. Only two years after they moved to Syria, Asma found herself alone once again as her boyfriend left her to marry a woman.

She stayed in Syria another five years but returned to her home country in 2013 as the war began to intensify. Shortly after she returned, she was arrested by Shia military forces. “I was thrown in jail and raped for many days,” she says. “I thought I would die.”

With the help of family members, Asma was eventually released. But because she was sexually ab used by another man while in jail, when Asma returned home, everyone believed she was gay. This led to her being ostracized and threatened daily by the community. Finally, Asma fled to Greece with money that her grandmother had saved and given her in secret. She still lives in fear that family members might discover her address in Athens and track her down.

Zahra, 42, Iraq

Zahra, a 42-year-old trans woman from Baghdad and Asma’s roommate in Athens, left Iraq for one reason: to live openly as a woman. In Iraq, Zahra workedas a waiter in a cafe in Baghdad, only wearing women’s clothing in the safety of her own home. Upon reaching Greece in December of last year, Zahra could finally express her gender identity as she saw fit.

Fahrinisa Campana for Vox

Zahra dreams of the day when, together with her boyfriend, who still lives in Iraq, she will be able to live without fear in a more trans-friendly country than Greece. But for now, that’s impossible. For the time being, Zahra focuses on what she can control â€" her appearance.

Over the summer, she started laser hair removal for her face and chest, and, despite the steep cost, hormone replacement therapy. To pay for these procedures, she began working as an escort for the first time in her life, something she never thought she would have to do â€" especially in Europe. She prefers not to discuss her work.

Sabah, 27, Iraq

Moving to Greece meant that 27-year-old Sabah, too, was finally able to express her gender identity. Originally from Basra, Sabah had pretended that she was gay. Last year, homosexuality was criminalized in nearly half of the provinces in Iraq â€" the same provinces that were under ISIS control. But being trans carries even greater ris ks. While gay people face their own stigmas, trans people, she says, are considered aberrations of nature.

Sabah’s family did not accept her trans identity. “When they found out about me, my father and uncle tried to cut my legs,” she says. The damage from the large machete-like knife was so severe, “the neighbors had to take me to the hospital.”

Demetrios Ioannou for Vox

Sabah’s ordeal did not end there. Arrested and thrown in jail twice for being trans, once by Islamic groups and once by the Iraqi government, she was tortured and raped both times, she says. The second time, after five months in jail, the judge gave Sabah a choice: either stay behind bars forever or leave the country immediately. She chose the latter. In May 2017, Sabah arrived on the Greek island of Chios.

Sabah was looking forward to reaching Europe â€" she had an aunt in Sweden who knew her secret and accepted her for who she was. Greece, however, was not the progressive country she was expecting. In Chios, Sabah says, she was beaten and verbally abused regularly by locals. She wasn’t sure “if it was because I am trans or because I am a refugee.” After three months, she left for Athens, where she still largely conceals her trans identity because of her experiences in Chios.

Rabia, 20, Iraq

Rabia, at 20, was forced to flee Basra because her family â€" particularly the men on her mother’s side of the family â€" attacked and threatened to kill her for being trans.

“My mother’s brother saw me walking on the street with one guy,” she says. “When they saw me they followed me and they came back to my house to beat me. They beat me over the head with a metal bar, and I had to get surgery.” Leaning forward in her chair, she parts the hair around the scar, a thick white line running along the side of her head.

Fahrinisa Campana for Vox

“I don’t feel safe here” -Rabia, 20

Still, Rabia did not leave Basra until her mother’s brother and his two sons killed her mother when they discovered she was saving money for Rabia to leave the country. Rabia fled to Baghdad, where she lived with friends and worked as an escort. When she found out that her cousins and uncle were still looking for her, Rabia immediately left for Greece, arriving on Chios in the early spring of 2017.

Having spent all of her money on the journey to Greece, Rabia again worked as an escort. But work conditions were much worse. In Baghdad, Rabia received the equivalent of €100 to €300 per client ($123 to $370). In Chios, given the stigma of being a refugee, she could only charge €10 to €20 ($12 to $25).

Even though she is now living in Athens, Rabia is too scared of harassment to present as a woman outside the safety of her home. “I don’t feel safe here,” she says.

She hopes to escape Greece and undergo gender-affirming surgery.

Demetrios Ioannou for Vox

Nadia, 28, Morocco

In her early teens, when she realized she was trans, Nadia started hormone replacement therapy with the support of her mother and two younger brothers. The treatment softened her facial features before she could develop a more masculine bone structure.

But life in her home city of Marrakesh was not easy. Th ough starting hormone treatment early protected her from unwanted attention in public, family members and neighbors who knew she was assigned male at birth shunned her and her parents.

Demetrios Ioannou for Vox

“We all did this because we know we don’t have any future in our country” -Nadia, 28

Before she reached her 20s, Nadia chose to move to another city in order to protect her mother and younger brothers from the stigma of having a transgender person in their family. After several years of being unable to find work â€" her ID cards and official documents were still under her male birth name and had photos of her as a boy â€" Nadia chose to make the dangerous journey to Europe.

“We [trans people] all did th is because we know we don’t have any future in our country, and also because we know we will die alone in our country,” she said.

Demetrios Ioannou for Vox

“That’s why we try to go in these boats even though we don’t know our fate â€" we might die, but we also might not.”

Despite the difficulties, both physical and emotional, that the LGBTQ refugee community continues to face on a daily basis in Greece, they still a deep sense of hope in the community. “I still have hope for a better future,” Asma said, smoking hookah in her living room with a group of trans refugees â€" a group she now calls family.

Fahrinisa Campana for Vox

Fahrinisa Campana is an independent multimedia journalist and a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School. She is currently based in Athens, covering stories about gender, migration, and human rights in developing countries and post-conflict environments.

Demetrios Ioannou is a Greek photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Athens. His work focuses on humanitarian issues, conflict, and the Middle East.

Correction: Moira Lavelle is a founding member of the organization LGBTQI+ Refugees Welcome in Greece.

Source: Google News Greece | Netizen 24 Greece