Residents of villages situated along the Greek border, are reacting against the notion of erecting a barrier to prevent the illegal crossing of immigrants. One villager states, “In the morning they say ‘Merhaba’ and we say to them ‘Kalispera’ , whereas the rest of the world is breaking down the walls.”
Greece recently announced intentions to build a barbed wire fence in an effort to prevent immigrants trying to cross into Europe over Turkey. However this news does not appear to have pleased the 'border town' public in Edirne. We paid a visit to the Karaağaç neighborhood, a major site where illegal crossing into Greece transpires. Village head Agâh Korkan is not only troubled by the issue, but he is also angry. "I do not want to see a wall when I wake up in the morning. The entire world is bringing down the walls, however despite this fact, Greece says they will be putting one up," states Korkan. Bringing up the Lavrion refugee camp in Greece, Korkan goes on to state; "Up until yesterday they were feeding fugitive members of the PKK terrorist organization in their camps. They didn't put a fence up then, but they want to now? I think there are political reasons behind the issue." SOME ARE IN SUPPORT Retiree Nihat Akaret, who hunts as a hobby, talks of the high number of fugitives he has seen in the area's rural region. Akaret states, "Edirne was once a capital city in the Ottoman Empire. There cannot be a wall here. They say we are going to enter into a common market. How do we do so when there is a wall between us and our neighbors," Akaret asks. Akaret explains that Pazarkule was named after an open market that used to be held collaboratively by Greeks and Turks and on the days it was held almost 100 vehicles would come in from Greece.
There are some people who do support the barrier, however. We spoke with village resident Hayati Başat at the local coffeehouse. "The fugitives hide out in between the corn fields. I have a 30,000- 40,000 square meter field and every morning when I wake up I notice that a significant part of the crops have been flattened. Isn't that a pity for us?"
Sami İmmet, who is involved with husbandry in Bosnaköy, the closest border village to Greece, explains how every 2-3 days, vehicles transporting illegal immigrants passes through the village late at night. "According to the Treaty of Lausanne, this is the only place left to Turkey on this side of the Evros River. In fact, for awhile there it had even been erased off the map because there was nobody left there. All in all there are maybe 100 people living here. It's this remoteness that works to the advantage of the fugitives. There is the Zafer Station and a military unit. But what can they do? Even I have seen so many immigrants trying to cross over… They ask me, 'which way is Europe'.
In the end, after all of this talk, the best words to be spoken by the Bosnaköy farmer Hüseyin Koca is that he is completely against the wall. "Our fields are right next to the fields of our Greek brothers. There are just pebbles between us. In the morning we plow our fields side by side and I say 'Kalispera' to him. And he says 'Merhaba' to me. He asks me what I am doing and what I am planting. Many of them speak Turkish because they went there from here. Everybody is happy in their own way. Why should I greet my neighbor through wire bars? It's just ridiculous."
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