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“Never let the queen down.” Love story of Elizabeth II and Philip

They lived together for 73 years, 4 months and 20 days. And died with a a a a year and five months difference. They — they are Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. recalls a bright, touching, rich in events and emotions love story. The world's longest monarch.

“To be spared in war and to see victory, to be able to rest and rebuild, to fall in love unconditionally —    after that, personal and even world problems look small and unworthy of attention. I'm afraid I can not be able to express all this in the right words, and I certainly am unable to convey my thanks to you. Lilibet, you the only thing in this world that is absolutely real for me  — Prince Philip wrote to his beloved Princess Elizabeth in 1945.

The charm of a blue-eyed blond

By that time, they had known each other for 11 years. The first meeting of the prince and the princess happened at the wedding of the cousin of Prince Philip — Princess Marina of Greece and Duke of Kent, who was the uncle of Princess Elizabeth. It was in 1934 in Westminster Abbey. But to pay close attention to the 13-year-old fourth cousin of eight-year-old Lilibet was unaware. Three years later, Philip and Elizabeth saw each other at the coronation of her father —George VI. But and then nobody could have imagined that someday they would get married and will live long and happily 

The spark between the young people ran later, when George VI together with wife Elizabeth Bowes-Lyonand daughters — Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret — attended the Royal Naval College, where Philip studied. With charm and jokes, an 18-year-old well-built blue-eyed blond instantly fell in love with a 13-year-old Lilibet. The girl immediately understood: here is her future husband. Philip realized that she — his fate, not immediately.

Young people began to correspond. On the nightstand by Lilibet's bed now stood a portrait of Philip. On vacation from service during World War II, he came to London. Celebrated Christmas with the Royal Family at Windsor Castle in 1943. Everything seemed to be going to the wedding. However, George VI did not approve of his daughter's choice. Philip came from a family that was deposed and fled from his native Greece, his parents divorced, his mother ended up in a psychiatric clinic. He didn't have any money. Yes                         's manners did not really correspond to the court of monarchs.

“A flash of color on the gray path”

The king and queen were horrified. They considered Philip unworthy of the hand and heart of their daughter. However, Elizabeth stood her ground. She did not see anyone else in the place of her future husband. And                 the year, during while relaxing in Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Philip, getting down on one knee, proposed to the princess. "I think" — Lilibet didn't said…

George VI had to come to terms with her choice. 10 July 1947, the engagement of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth took place. Four months later, on November 20, the lovers got married. He was 26 years old, she — 21.

Shortly before the wedding, the king gave the future son-in-law the title of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. Having accepted British citizenship, from the former titles of "Prince of Greece" and "Prince of Denmark" Philip refused. In addition, he took his mother's surname, rewritten in English manner — Mountbatten. Moved from Orthodoxy to Anglicanism. And a few years later, when her beloved became queen after the sudden death of her father, he was forced to leave his military career.


The celebration itself was modest by royal standards. Only 2 thousands of invitees! Elizabeth bought the fabric for the dress herself on cards (the government allocated her additional, in honor of the solemn occasion), according to which post-war Britain still lived.

However, the royal wedding ceremony was broadcast on radio and television for the first time. And more than 2 million people gathered on the streets of London. Postcards with photographs of the newlyweds were specially issued.

However, the most interesting in "wedding of the century" there were not dresses, decorations, and a four-tiered cake 3 meters high, but Elizabeth the traditional promise to obey her husband, which she insisted on herself. And surprised everyone.

Winston Churchill called the wedding of the prince and princess “a flash of color on the common gray path”.

Queen's Shadow

From their side life of course seemed a fairy tale in which every day — like a wedding. Yes and how could it be otherwise for royals?! However, in the  life of Elizabeth II and Duke Philip, as in many simple families, there were problems and grief. After all, they raised four children. Elizabeth left the two older ones in  London when she left for Malta to her husband who served there. But little kids — little troubles…

Suffice it to recall the scandals around Prince Charles related to his extramarital affairs, divorce from Princess Diana, her death, the new marriage of the Queen's eldest son… Like any mother, she was certainly worried about he. It's a gift that he has already been a father twice.

Princess Anne and Prince Andrew could not live long and happily in the same marriage. Not rumors went around the queen and husband. Especially in the first half of their life together. All sorts of intrigues, novels, relationships with actresses, journalists, ballerinas were attributed to the Duke … Not a single fact was confirmed. And Philip himself, somehow unable to stand it, answered the journalist’s tricky question: “Didn’t it occur to you that all these years I didn’t go anywhere without a police escort? Damn it, how would I have gotten away with such a trick?!»

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Photo: Rohwedder

70 for years, from 1951 to 2021 year, Prince Philip's destiny was always to be close to the Queen. That that is, half a step behind. He was her main support, support, true friend, reliable shoulder, stone wall… And shadow. Yes, the queen's shadow, without which she simply could not live.

“To be honest, I”d rather stay in the navy, — once confessed the duke. — But there was no choice . It happened. Sometimes life forces you to make compromises. And the main thing for me — never fail the queen»…

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Greece lifted fighters into the air to intercept a passenger liner

Two F-16s were scrambled after a Middle East Airlines flight from Madrid to Beirut with 145 passengers on board The plane did not respond to radio messages, the aircraft-tracking website IntelSky said on Monday.

“There were reportedly several attempts to contact the aircraft, but no response was received via radio, which is particularly alarming,” it said. in a series of IntelSky tweets about the August 10 incident.

As a result, the NATO air traffic control center in Spain sent an alert to the Greek authorities. According to media reports, a “Renegade Code” was issued, which is a distress signal, usually used to indicate that an aircraft has been hijacked.

Greek authorities sent two F-16 fighters to intercept and check the aircraft. They did so and decided that there were no problems to worry about.

IntelSky said it is believed that pilot Abed Al-Hout, the son of Middle East Airlines chairman Mohammed Al-Hout, forgot to set the cockpit instruments to the correct frequency, which is why he did not respond to greetings. The incident did not go unnoticed by residents of the Greek region of Argos, some of whom reported strange sounds to the fire department that sounded like explosions, but they were fighter jets


Vinnik was taken from Greece to the USA

France extradited Vinnik to Greece, but after arriving in Athens, he disappeared, lawyers said. The Russian family said that Vinnik was taken on a private plane to Boston, from where they had already been taken to San Francisco

Alexander Vinnik

Russian Alexander Vinnik was taken from Greece in the United States, RIA Novosti reported. in his family.

Vinnik was taken to Boston on a private jet, and then transferred to a company plane to San Francisco.

“From Boston, Alexander was given a call home. Everything happened and was framed as a kidnapping,— added to the family.

On the eve of the Paris court approved the US decision to withdraw the request for the extradition of Vinnik and end the case against him in France. At the same time, the lawyer of the Russian, Frederic Belo, explained that in fact Vinnik would not be released, since he would have to be immediately taken into custody to be transferred to Greece, where the United States sent a second extradition request back in 2017. The lawyer dismissed the United States decision as a “fraud” suggesting that Greece would quickly send the Russian to San Francisco, whose local court had issued the original arrest warrant.


After arriving in Athens, Vinnik disappeared, his lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou said. According to her, the police prevented her from entering the department for several hours, and when the lawyer managed to get inside, she was told that they did not know where the Russian was. Konstantopoulou suggested that Vinnik could be put on a plane and sent to the United States. In this case, “we are talking about one of the most egregious violations of international legality,” she said.

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However, Greece did not extradite Vinnik to either Russia or the United States, but agreed with the request from France. A Parisian court sentenced the Russian to five years in prison.

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The lawyer announced the sending of the Russian Vinnik from France to Greece

The defense believes that Vinnik from Greece will immediately be handed over to the United States. Earlier, the States withdrew their request for his extradition sent to France. The Russian himself asked to be extradited to Russia

Alexander Vinnik

Russian Alexander Vinnik was sent from France to Greece, lawyer Frederic Belo told RBC.

Earlier on August 4, the investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal ruled on the extradition process of Vinnik to the United States. She granted the prosecutor's request to invalidate the request for extradition to the United States and to release Vinnik from extradition arrest, the lawyer said.

Belo believes that Vinnik will immediately be transferred from Greece to the United States in pursuance of the decision of the Minister of Justice of Greece, issued in 2019. The Russian will be sent to San Francisco, as it was the local court that issued the original arrest warrant, he explained.

Vinnik was arrested in July 2017 in Greece at the request of the United States. He was suspected of creating the BTC-e crypto exchange and laundering $4 billion through it. In addition to the United States and France, Russia sought the extradition of Vinnik, to the authorities of which he admitted in 2018 to embezzlement of 750 million rubles. Vinnik stated that he wanted a “voluntary” extradition to Russia.

In January 2020, Greece extradited Vinnik to France. There he is suspected of identity theft and extortion. The authorities of this country sentenced him to five years in prison.

The term of imprisonment ended on June 30, but the Russian was not allowed to leave the prison. According to Belo, extradition to Greece was planned for the same day: “Thus, at the moment when Vinnik was supposed to be released, he was again under arrest pending extradition.” The Russians were then to be handed over to the United States. However, the ECHR refused France to extradite Vinnik to Greece.

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The ambassador called relations between Russia and Greece destroyed “in a matter of days”

Since the end of February, relations between Moscow and Athens have ceased, there is no cooperation between the countries, the Russian diplomat said. Russia previously added Greece to the list of unfriendly states

Increased likelihood of armed conflict between Turkey and Greece

“The parties must show that they still have muscles”

Greece is concentrating its armed forces in the area adjacent to the Turkish border. Such messages are actively disseminated by Turkish intelligence. According to her, several dozen tanks, up to 60 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles were seen in the area of ​​the Maritsa River. Ankara reacts seriously to such actions of the Greeks, believing that Athens is preparing for a large-scale military clash with the Turkish army in Western Thrace. An expert assessed the likelihood of a military escalation between the countries.

Photo: Global Look Press

Dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers of the Greek armed forces were seen on the border between Turkey and Greece, reports. It is alleged that they are deployed en masse about three kilometers from the border with Turkey, which, from the point of view of a number of local media, may indicate a possible start of an armed confrontation between Athens and Ankara.

It is reported that several dozen tanks, as well as at least 60 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, were pulled into the area of ​​​​the Maritsa River. After unloading, weapons are immediately deployed in already prepared field fortifications.

“According to photographs and information provided today by sources in Western Thrace, Greece is intensively moving armored vehicles and tanks to the Turkish border, – note Turkish information resources. – Earlier, the Greek armed forces began to dig anti-tank trenches on the banks of the Maritsa River, which forms the border line between Turkey and Greece in Western Thrace.

They also stressed that back in early June, “due to threats from Ankara» Athens put the army in the eastern Aegean on high alert. However, there have been no official statements from Greece on this matter yet.

“In my opinion, a serious military escalation between Turkey and Greece should not be expected,” comments MK. Alexei Obraztsov, Leading Research Fellow at the HSE Center for Asian and African Studies. – In this regard, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is likely to make some kind of incendiary speech, saying that we have always said that the Greeks – people are unreliable, that they violate everything that is possible. The head of state will definitely add that, for its part, Ankara was regrouping insignificant border forces on its territory, so this should not concern anyone.

In addition, one of the reasons for the demarche of the President of Turkey regarding the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO was associated with the desire to stabilize and advance in a positive way the position on Northern Cyprus. Accordingly, Athens will now also try to win back the lost points.

Meanwhile, according to the expert, things are unlikely to come to a real collision. In the end, both countries – members of the North Atlantic Alliance and they will very quickly be put on the stools intended for them.

“For the sake of the foreign and domestic political situation, from time to time both Turkey and Greece must show that they still have muscles,” the political scientist continues. – Theoretically, some frivolous border clashes are possible, because each side has territorial claims to each other. But, since both states are members of NATO and are closely linked by bloc obligations, it is unlikely that this will result in something significant.

At the same time, some Western observers believe that if a new armed conflict breaks out in Europe, it could be a clash between Turkey and Greece.

One of the sore points in relations between the two neighboring countries – the so-called “Aegean Question”. This is a whole complex of controversial topics between Turkey and Greece regarding the sovereignty of certain territories and related rights in the Aegean Sea and the airspace above it. Twice – in 1987 and at the beginning of 1996, this topic led to crisis situations close to a serious armed confrontation between two neighboring states.

So it turns out that, at least at the level of the rhetoric of the policy of the high level do not exclude the use of force to resolve the accumulated contradictions. Although for NATO it would be “nightmare” a scenario that the alliance will do its best to prevent.

In the 1990s, dangerous maneuvers by military aircraft of NATO allies led to human casualties. So, a Greek pilot crashed, intercepting a Turkish F-16, and a Turkish pilot died, shot down by a Greek Mirage-2000. Another Greek pilot crashed after a collision with a Turkish F-16 near the island of Karpathos.

In modern times, tensions between Athens and Ankara in the Aegean have risen due to the migrant crisis. Turkey accuses the Greek authorities of pushing back illegal migrants trying to enter Europe. On Sunday, it was reported that Turkish security forces had rescued migrants “thrown back” on two life rafts by the Greek Coast Guard at sea.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean to reach northern and western Europe in search of a better life in recent years, according to the Turkish Daily Sabah. Turkey and Greece have proven to be key transit points for migrants. Ankara has accused Athens of massive refusals to accept refugees, deport and deny migrants access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. Ankara also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this “egregious violation of human rights.”

Did not contribute to the strengthening of Turkish-Greek mutual understanding and speech in May Prime Minister of Hellas Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a speech before both houses of the US Congress. The head of the Greek government told American lawmakers Athens' arguments in favor of acquiring the F-35 stealth fighter from the United States and against Turkey's permission to upgrade its F-16 fighters with new missiles, radar and electronics.

Erdogan reacted very sharply to this: “We once again warn Greece to avoid dreams, statements and actions that will lead to regrets, as it was a century ago.” Greece's catastrophic defeat in 1922.

On the way to the NATO summit in Madrid in June, Erdogan said he refused to meet with Mitsotakis until the Greek prime minister “pulled himself together”: “We said:” I'm sorry, but we don't have time for such a meeting right now. Because it is obvious that they are militarizing the islands. Later that day, the Turkish leader said that Ankara had no desire to go to war with Greece, but immediately blamed Athens for 147 violations of Turkish airspace.


Crash of Ukrainian An-12 in Greece

An-12 cargo plane belonging to the Ukrainian airline “Meridian” crashed in the area of ​​the city of Kavala in northern Greece. It is reported by the Associated Press.

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The moment of the crash. Drone shot. © Reuters

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The moment of the crash. Drone shot. © Reuters

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Consulate General of Greece in Moscow to suspend work

The Consulate General of Greece in Moscow will suspend work for three days due to the expulsion of diplomats The Consulate General will suspend work due to the expulsion of Greek diplomats. The diplomatic department will stop the activities of the visa department on June 29 and resume it on July 4 =”The Consulate General of Greece in Moscow will suspend work” />

The Consulate General of Greece in Russia

The Consulate General of Greece in Russia will suspend the work of the visa and civil departments from June 29 to July 1, the press service of the diplomatic mission reports.

“In connection with the deportation of employees and the necessary reorganization of the work of the body, from Wednesday— June 29, 2022 to Friday— On July 1, 2022, the Consulate General of Greece in Moscow suspends the work of the visa and civil departments, except for cases of a humanitarian nature,— the message says.

On July 4, the Consulate General will resume its work.

The day before, Russia declared eight Greek diplomatic employees persona non grata and demanded that they leave the country. This was a response to the expulsion of 12 employees of Russian diplomatic and consular missions in the country on April 6.

In addition, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed to the Ambassador of Greece Ekaterina Nassik “a strong protest in connection with the confrontational course of the Greek authorities towards Russia, including the supply of weapons and military equipment to the Kyiv regime.”

June 25 “Bulletin ATOR” (Association of Tour Operators of Russia) wrote that the Greek visa centers in Russia warned tour operators to suspend the acceptance of documents for visas from June 27 for an indefinite period. The visa center attributed this to “technical reasons” for which the Greek consulates in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novorossiysk will be temporarily closed. Representatives of travel companies reported that the consulate planned to carry out a “system update”.

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Later, the Greek visa operator Global Visa Center World (GVCW) announced that the visa application centers in Russia, at the direction of the consulate, will continue to work as usual, the technical suspension of accepting documents for visas is canceled.

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ATOR announced the suspension of the acceptance of documents for visas to Greece from the Russians

ATOR: Greek Visa Application Centers will suspend acceptance of documents for visas from Russians from June 27

Visa centers of Greece in Russia have warned tour operators that from June 27 they will suspend the acceptance of documents for visas for an indefinite period, reports ATOR Bulletin. According to the industry portal TourDom, personal applicants also received similar notifications.

The center attributed this to “technical reasons” that will temporarily close the Greek consulates in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novorossiysk. They noted that applicants who have an appointment for dates after June 27 can reschedule it to a later date. However, it is not specified when the acceptance of documents will resume.

In one of the tour operator companies «Vestnik ATOR» reported that the system of the visa center is being updated. TourDom, citing a representative of one of the companies, also reports that the consulate explains the situation with a “system update”; and promise to quickly resume issuing visas.

The Greek Embassy said the Visa Application Center promised to provide official clarifications on Monday, June 27.

RBC sent inquiries to the press service of the Greek Embassy in Russia, as well as to the press services of the tour operators Tez Tour, Intourist, Anex Tour, Coral Travel, Biblio Globus and Pegas Touristik.

There are visa centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk and other cities. Previously, they suspended work amid restrictions due to the coronavirus, but in April 2021 they began to accept documents again, the Global Visa Center World (GVCW) visa operator reported.

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In 2019, Greece issued almost 367,000 visas in Russia. The country has a minimum percentage of refusals to issue visas to Russians (0.88%).

According to the Bank of Greece, in January-April 2022, 2.1 million foreigners visited the country (during the same period last year— 378, 3 thousand). The number of travelers from Russia amounted to 11.6 thousand.

This week, Yuri Pilipson, Director of the Fourth European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, called Greece unsafe for Russian citizens to stay. According to the diplomat, cases of discrimination against Russians and aggression against them have been recorded in the country, which are explained by “the incessant anti-Russian rhetoric on the part of Greek officials and the dissemination of disinformation about the events in Ukraine in the local media.”

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The Foreign Ministry called Greece an unsafe country for Russians

There have been cases of discrimination against Russians and aggression against them in Greece, so the country is not safe for Russian citizens to stay, Yury Pilipson, director of the Fourth European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with TASS.

“There were cases of beatings, including of children, after the attacks, the victims required hospitalization. Greek banks often freely interpret the illegal restrictive measures introduced by the European Union, block the accounts of Russians on a national basis, — he said.

The diplomat said that the Russian diplomatic mission in Greece daily receives complaints from Russians due to violations of their legitimate rights and interests, information is transferred to “Russian law enforcement agencies”. As Pilipson noted, due to the reduction in the number of staff of the diplomatic mission, “the possibilities of consular assistance are seriously limited,” and “official requests often go unanswered.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that the Russians also apply “to the competent Greek authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

According to the diplomat, the facts of discrimination and aggression are explained by “the incessant anti-Russian rhetoric on the part of Greek officials and the dissemination of misinformation about the events in Ukraine in the local media.” The most egregious incidents are listed in the ministry's report “On Violations of the Rights of Russian Citizens and Compatriots in Foreign Countries,” Pilipson added.

After the start of the special operation in Ukraine, Greece, as a member of the European Union, joined the sanctions against Russia, the country, like other EU states, closed its skies to Russian aircraft. In addition, Greece provides Ukraine with military support: in early June, Athens reported that it had transferred to Kyiv an “incredible amount” of weapons, including infantry fighting vehicles, man-portable air defense systems, ammunition, etc.

As early as March, the Russian Foreign Ministry drew attention to the “unprecedented” “an information campaign to discredit Russia's policy.” The statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry was called “unacceptable” by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since Greek policy is based on full respect for international law and the reflection of “truth based on confirmed and indisputable facts.” “Any attempt, from whatever source, to spread false news and disinformation aimed at disorienting public opinion is condemned,” read in the message of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Greece announced the transfer of an “incredible amount” of weapons to Ukraine

Pronews: Greece has transferred an “incredible amount” of weapons to Ukraine, including BMPs and MANPADS Kyiv will receive from Athens more than a hundred BMP-1s, 60 Stinger systems and other weapons and equipment. In April, the Greek authorities announced that they would no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine so as not to act to the detriment of their own security


The Greek government has transferred or plans to transfer an “incredible amount” of weapons to Ukraine weapons, writes According to the portal, this is how Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos described the deliveries. Weapons from the army warehouses on the Greek islands will be used to transfer to Kyiv.

We are talking about the following types of weapons and ammunition:

  • 122 BMP-1s with ammunition;
  • 15,000 73mm shells;
  • 20,000 AK-47s;
  • 3.2 million caliber rounds 7.62 mm;
  • 60 FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS;
  • 17 thousand 150 mm artillery shells;
  • 1.1 thousand RPG anti-tank grenades -18.

According to Pronews, six Lockheed C-130 Greek transport aircraft, ten Canadian and five New Zealand transport aircraft were used to transport the listed weapons and equipment.

In April, Panagiotopoulos said that Athens no longer plans to send military equipment to Kyiv, as this would weaken the defense of Greece itself. By that time, the Greek authorities had already sent two S-130 aircraft with Kalashnikov assault rifles and portable launchers to Ukraine.

In May, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Berlin had concluded an agreement with Athens: they would transfer Soviet tanks to Kyiv, and the FRG will give them modern German cars in return.

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Turkey to end bilateral talks with Greece

Erdogan announced the termination of the agreement with Athens on a strategic council at the highest level. A few days before, the Turkish President announced that Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis no longer exists for him

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey will refuse negotiations with Greece, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports Haberturk. “We will no longer have bilateral negotiations with this country. We tore up our [agreement] on a strategic [advice] at the highest level, — he said.

The disagreements between Ankara and Athens concern, in particular, the status of the islands in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea, which, according to the Lausanne and Paris treaties, passed to Greece on the condition that they be demilitarized. The day before, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Greece of violating the demilitarized status of the islands and warned that if the course to deploy weapons there continues, Ankara will call into question the sovereignty of Greece over them. On May 27, Greece's permanent representative to the UN, Maria Theophili, sent a letter to the international organization, in which she rejected the demands of the Turkish side regarding the islands. The document notes that “any attempt to call into question the sovereignty of Greece” over them on the basis of “alleged violation of the obligation to demilitarize” would be a violation of international law.

The two states have repeatedly accused each other of violating airspace in recent months. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou on May 4 called the violations by Ankara unprecedented. Turkey rejects the “groundless” accusations of Athens and alleges “provocative violations” allegedly committed by the Greek Air Force.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised to defend the sovereignty of his country. “We need to constantly have a dialogue, and we are always in favor of keeping the channels of communication open. We will never be the ones to refuse to talk [with neighbors],” — assured the prime minister. He stated that since his meeting with Erdogan in March, Turkish military aircraft overflights of Greece had become more frequent, and said that he “will raise this issue at every opportunity until Turkey changes its behavior.”

In During his visit to the US in May, Mitsotakis urged the US authorities not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

After that, the Turkish president said that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “no longer exists”; for him. “I will never agree to meet him. We will continue the path with worthy politicians, & mdash; Erdogan responded. The representative of the Greek government, Ioannis Ikonomou, in response, noted that his country would not enter into a dispute with the Turkish leadership and that Mitsotakis defends the rights of Greece and international law.

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Anadolu learned about Turkey’s refusal from NATO air exercises in Greece

As the reason, Anadolu sources cited the changes that Greece made to the regulations for conducting maneuvers without agreement with Turkey. Prior to this, Ankara and Athens accused each other of intrusions into the airspace alt=”Anadolu has learned of Turkey's refusal of NATO air exercises in Greece” />

The Turkish Air Force will not participate in NATO's Tiger Meet exercises, which are due to take place in Greece in May, Anadolu reports, citing sources in the security services . According to them, Ankara notified Athens of its decision on April 22.

Reason— changes in the regulations of the exercises directed against the Turkish side, and the refusal to cancel them at the request of Ankara, the agency writes. Anadolu does not specify what specific changes are in question.

Tiger Meet— annual NATO exercises. Every year they are held in different countries of the alliance. This year, the exercises will be held from May 9 to 22 at the Greek Araxos air base.

On April 27, the Greek portal Newsbomb reported that Greece withdrew its invitation to Turkey to participate in the Tiger Meet, citing Turkish fighter incursions in its air space.

The next day, Turkey claimed that Greek planes had entered Turkish airspace “thirty times in three days”.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused Turkey of flying over the Greek islands without permission and said that reported on the violations of the Turkish side to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Mitsotakis said about “undermining European security and the unity of purpose of NATO” Ankara. The Turkish ambassador in Athens was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where he was protested.

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The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on Greece to “stop provocative actions and rhetoric.” “Greece” the side that started and intensified the tension, unfounded accusations against us do not contribute to <…> good neighborly relations between countries»,— stated in the department.

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Greece decided to release the detained Russian tanker “Pegasus”


The Russian tanker Pegasus, detained in Greece, will be released, the Kathimerini newspaper reported.

The detention of a tanker in the port of Karystos on the island of Euboea was reported a few days ago. The Pegasus was on its way to the Peloponnese to transfer oil to another tanker. The decision to detain was made by the Anti-Money Laundering Authority as part of the implementation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union and NATO.

The Pegasus vessel flying the Russian flag has been released in accordance with a new order of the Anti-Money Laundering Authority.


Russian tanker detained in Greece after breakdown

The Pegas oil tanker was detained in Greece after the imposition of sanctions by the European Union prohibiting Russian ships from entering European ports. The Greek Coast Guard emphasized that the ship itself was detained, but not the cargo ” alt=”A Russian tanker was detained in Greece after a breakdown” />

A Russian tanker Pegas, which was in the Aegean Sea, was detained in Greece due to restrictive measures against ships from Russia. This is reported by The Washington Post, citing the Greek Coast Guard and Reuters, citing a source in the Greek Ministry of Shipping.

The detained tanker was carrying crude oil and had 19 crew members from Russia on board. The detention took place in the bay of Karystos near the island of Eubia in the Aegean Sea. The coast guard noted to Greece that the detention concerns only the tanker itself, and not the cargo on it.

The Greek portal Protothema, without specifying the source of information, specifies that the relevant decision was made by the Office for Combating Money Laundering. According to the portal, due to a mechanical failure, the tanker was accompanied by a tugboat on its way to the Peloponnese, where the oil had to be reloaded into another tanker. However, due to unfavorable weather conditions near Cape Doro (Evia) the Russian tanker anchored near Karystos, writes Protothema.

According to Fleetmoon, a vessel-tracking service, the Aframax-class Pegas tanker built in 2003, it has a length of 249m and a width of 44m, it is capable of carrying up to 61.9 thousand tons of cargo. The tanker, according to the information of the service, is registered in the port of Taganrog in the Rostov region, the vessel belongs to the company “Transmorflot”.

According to SPARK, a private company “Transmorflot” is registered in Taganrog, its head Andrey Beloglazov.

In early April, the tanker sailed from the Turkish port in the Sea of ​​Marmara, writes Fleetmoon, now the tanker is still at anchorage near the island of Euboea. Until June 2020, the ship sailed under the flag of Liberia under the name “Perun”, it changed ownership in August of the same year, and the name— in the middle of June last year.

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The detention of the vessel is connected with the adoption by the European Union in early April of the fifth package of sanctions against Russia, they are designed to “increase pressure on the Russian government and economy, as well as limit the resources of the Kremlin for aggression.” In particular, the measures included a ban on ships flying the Russian flag to enter the ports of the EU countries, exceptions are possible only for those ships that carry humanitarian aid, food and agricultural products.

Belgium, in particular, allowed entry into their ports to Russian ships, subject to the availability of a permit, or the purchase, import or transportation to the European Union of oil, gas, as well as medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural and food products, including fertilizers and wheat.

Exceptions for the restrictive measure against ships from Russia were also approved in Romania. The country's authorities allowed Russian ships carrying oil, natural gas, copper, palladium, aluminum, iron ore, coal, titanium and nuclear fuel, as well as food, agricultural products and drugs to continue entering ports.

At the end of March, the head of leading private Greek shipping group Angelicoussis, Maria Angelicoussis, said the conflict in Ukraine was having a “great impact” on the sphere of tanker transportation, Reuters reported. “Shipowners do not dare to ship Russian oil or oil products <…> There is self-sanctioning, — she said. Angelicoussis added that Angelicoussis would not carry Russian cargo due to a large “ethical component”.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov in mid-April accused Western countries of trying to isolate Russia with the “four rings” ; global blockade. “[The West is trying to] literally pull it out of world economic ties, thereby launching the processes of degradation and disintegration of our economic system,” — he claims. Belousov assured that it is impossible to isolate Russia, since its economy— sixth largest in the world. “The events of the last month and a half clearly testify to this,” — emphasized the Deputy Prime Minister.

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Scandal erupted in Greece over Zelensky’s speech to parliament

Photo: Global Look Press

Two members of the Ukrainian nationalist battalion “Azov” (recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation) of Greek origin addressed the Greek Parliament together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. This caused a political scandal. Many parliamentarians boycotted the meeting.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis invited the Ukrainian leader to address the Greek Parliament. The head of government himself, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Ukrainian ambassador to Athens, and members of the country's Cabinet of Ministers came to listen to Zelensky.

Moreover, in addition to members of the ruling party, the speech was attended by the leader of the official opposition Alexis Tsipras and a representative of the MERA25 party Yorgos Logiadis. However, MPs from the right-wing Hellenic Solution Party and the Greek Communist Party (KKE) were absent in protest.

During his speech, Volodymyr Zelensky spoke about the situation in Ukraine and called on Greece to provide the country with all the necessary assistance. In addition, the head of state invited the Greek parliamentarians to watch a video with the appeal of two fighters in Mariupol.

The first speaker said that he was born in Mariupol, his grandfather “fought the Nazis during World War II.” And now he himself is fighting as part of the Azov battalion.

The second fighter wore a mask. He asked Greece to send humanitarian aid to Mariupol.

Video screenshot

In total, Zelensky's speech lasted 15 minutes. At the end of it, Olga Gerovasili, secretary of the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance party, noted that it was unacceptable to invite members of the Azov Battalion to speak. She stressed that at the meeting of the leaders of the parties, she would ask the Speaker of the Parliament, Tasoulas, to explain whether he was informed about this and whether he gave his consent.


Greece will send 12 Russian diplomats

Greek Foreign Ministry Declares 12 Russian Diplomats Persona Non Grata The Greek Foreign Ministry did not name specific reasons for the expulsion. In March, the Russian embassy repeatedly published in social networks information about actions to support Russia in Greece .jpg” alt=”Greece will send 12 Russian diplomats” />

View of the Greek Foreign Ministry building

The Greek Foreign Ministry recognized 12 employees of Russian diplomatic and consular missions as persona non grata, according to the ministry's website. This status is the most serious form of censure and prohibits the presence of diplomats in the country.

The Office has declared their presence in Greece undesirable in accordance with the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Affairs of 1961 and 1963. The Acting Secretary General informed the Russian Ambassador of the decision.

In early March, the Russian embassy in Greece reported on the appeals of Russians because of threats and insults against them and called for investigation of such cases, follows from the embassy's Facebook post (owned by Meta, recognized as extremist and banned in Russia).

On March 26, the mission published photographs of the monument to Admiral Fyodor Ushakov in the city of Kerkyra on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra) in the Ionian Sea, which was doused with red paint. The embassy sent a note to the Greek Foreign Ministry and demanded an investigation into the act of vandalism. After that, the diplomatic mission repeatedly published materials about the actions to support Russia, which took place in Greece.

European countries began to expel Russian diplomats against the backdrop of Russia's military operation. The diplomatic missions were expelled by Slovakia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, North Macedonia and Poland.

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On April 4, the German Foreign Ministry decided to expel 40 employees of diplomatic and consular institutions, and also expressed to Russian Ambassador Sergei Nechaev the position of Germany on the events in Ukrainian Bucha. The Russian diplomat announced that he would not accept “one-sided accusations.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova promised that Russia would respond to the “evil act of the German political machine.”

The French Foreign Ministry compiled a list of persona non grata, but did not report the number of diplomats expelled. A BFMTV source spoke about 30 employees, Le Parisien and Le Figaro wrote about 35 diplomats.

Denmark will send 15 diplomats, Sweden— three. Spain refused 25 employees of diplomatic missions because of the threat to the country's security, Italy— from 30. Latvia will close the Russian consulates in Daugavpils and Liepaja and will send 13 Russian diplomats and employees. The Estonian Foreign Ministry decided to expel 14 consulate employees and close the consulate in Narva, as well as the office in Tartu.

The European Union decided to declare 19 employees of the permanent mission of Russia persona non grata, Bloomberg reported. About the expulsion of “a certain number” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell spoke to diplomats earlier.

The Russian Foreign Ministry promised to take countermeasures and began expelling a small number of diplomats. Deputy head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that the deportations are “a cheap continuation of the schizoid pressure campaign” to Russia and will lead nowhere.

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France, Turkey and Greece are preparing an operation to evacuate Mariupol

French president wants to discuss 'exceptional humanitarian operation' with Putin

President Emmanuel Macron says France is going to lead an 'exceptional humanitarian operation' alongside Turkey and Greece to evacuate residents of a Ukrainian city Mariupol.


“We are going to launch a humanitarian operation together with Turkey and Greece to evacuate all those who want to leave Mariupol,” Macron told reporters after a two-day EU summit.

According to POLITICO, Macron provided few details about his plan, but said the operation would take place “the sooner the better” and would be carried out “in agreement” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian authorities. The French leader also said that he was in touch with the mayor of Mariupol.

The French President also said that he would discuss the Mariupol operation with Russian President Vladimir Putin “within 48-72 hours.”

“I hope that I can involve the maximum number of interested parties in this operation,” Macron said.

France plans to demand that Russia allow passage both for those residents who want to leave Mariupol and provide humanitarian assistance those who want to stay, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing a French source.

More than 100,000 people remain stranded in Mariupol, says POLITICO.

“I have a special thought for the people of Mariupol, who are experiencing one of the greatest dramas,” French President Macron said. “Today, in this city of more than 400,000 people, only 150,000 are left who live in a dramatic situation.”

Macron had already discussed the “humanitarian action” in Mariupol with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Brussels the day before.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also confirmed on Friday that a humanitarian operation in the Ukrainian city, which has a large Greek community, is being discussed.

Earlier this week, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he intended to accompany a humanitarian mission to Mariupol. “Today, in an official note sent to the Ukrainian side, I ask you to assist, and in another note to the Russian side, not to interfere with the sending of humanitarian aid to Mariupol. I intend to personally accompany this mission in agreement with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Mauer, with whom we are already in contact,” Dendias said.

It is worth noting that all three countries that could allegedly be involved in a “humanitarian operation”, are members of NATO. If Greece’s participation is explained by the presence of the Greek community in Mariupol, and Turkey’s participation is obviously due to geographical reasons (the possibility, for example, to organize the evacuation of the population by sea), then the activity of the French leader can be explained by the desire of Emmanuel Macron not only to help the residents of the Ukrainian city, but also the desire to increase its foreign policy authority in the light of the upcoming presidential elections in April.


In a Turkish border town, migrant ‘pushbacks’ from Greece turn deadly

“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>In a Turkish border town, migrant ‘pushbacks’ from Greece turn deadly

Last week, 19 migrants froze to death near a Turkish village on the border with Greece. Their deaths shed new light on pushbacks, which witnesses say are routine.

The WorldFebruary 9, 2022 · 2:30 PM EST

A security guard stands at the entrance of the Medical Forensic Institution in Istanbul, Feb. 3, 2022. Turkey has blamed Greece for the deaths of 19 migrants in a Turkish border town, accusing Greek border guards of illegally pushing the migrants back over the frontier. Greece has strongly rejected the accusation. 

Emrah Gurel/AP

The migrants arrive early in the morning in Turkish villages along the Greek border, residents say. 

Often barefoot and inadequately clothed, they follow the smoke from the chimneys of houses along the river that mark Turkey’s border with Greece, and knock on doors, seeking help. Others seek shelter in deserted farmhouses in the area.

Last week, 19 migrants froze to death near the Turkish border town of Ipsala. 

Their deaths shed new light on pushbacks — the practice of immediately forcing refugees and migrants back over a border without the chance for them to apply for asylum.

Witnesses say pushbacks at the Greece-Turkey border are routine. But Greece strongly denies these claims.

Related: Afghans endure indefinite limbo at 5-star hotel in Albania

A view of Ipsala from the bus station. For many migrants and refugees, this town is their last stop before walking into Greece.


Durrie Bouscaren/The World

Survivors who were traveling with the group said they were arrested on Greek territory, stripped of their belongings, and forced back into Turkey.

“We had nothing with us, no clothes. Not even shoes. … Does anyone do such torture [to] others?”

Riyaz A., migrant from Bangladesh in Turkey who survived a "pushback" by Greek authorities, according to his testimony

“We had nothing with us, no clothes. Not even shoes,” said a survivor identified by Turkish state media as Riyaz A. “Does anyone do such torture [to] others?”

Riyaz said he was from Bangladesh, in an emotional interview given to a handful of pro-government Turkish media channels and later posted on YouTube. He also said he was traveling with about 50 people from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and an unspecified African country.

He said the migrants were held in a Greek detention center for two or three days without food or water.

On Feb. 1, Greek police deported the young men across the river that forms the Greece-Turkey border and forced them to walk into Turkish territory, according to Riyaz’s testimony.

The majority of the group stopped to rest on that rainy night, many without coats. But Riyaz said he and a friend made the decision to keep walking.

“The Turkish police provided us with food, jackets and medical treatment,” Riyaz said. “This is why we are fine now, otherwise we could have died.”

An ambulance carrying the bodies of victims enters the Medical Forensic Institution in Istanbul, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.


Emrah Gurel/AP

Selim Vatandaş, an analyst and researcher for the Istanbul-based International Refugee Rights Association, visited the scene near Ipsala immediately, to interview first responders and witnesses.

“There’s no doubt that it violates international conventions to which Greece is a party."

Selim Vatandaş, analyst and researcher, International Refugee Rights Association, Istanbul, Turkey

“There’s no doubt that it violates international conventions to which Greece is a party,” Vatandaş said.

The 19 victims were all young men under the age of 30, he said. They were found in various levels of undress — a fact confirmed by blurred out photographs of the bodies, released by Turkish officials.

Victims were found with no wallets or cell phones, Vatandaş said, making it difficult for authorities to contact their families. Forensics teams will have to resort to DNA samples from hair and dental records to identify them.

“In this kind of situation, it takes three to five months, unfortunately,” Vatandaş said.

The Greek government has denied any responsibility for the deaths.

Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi has accused Turkey of creating “false propaganda.” In a Feb. 2 statement, he claimed that the migrants never made it to the Greek border, and that any suggestion they had been pushed back into Turkey was “utter nonsense.”

Related: ‘We have no future’: Afghan women protest Taliban restrictions

On Sunday, protests in Athens took place against border pushbacks.

Members of human rights and migrant rights groups hold placards in Turkish and English as they gather in front of the Greek consulate in Istanbul, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, to protest the deaths of migrants at Turkey-Greece border. 


Emrah Gurel/AP

Over the past two years, the United Nations has documented 550 cases of Greek authorities forcing migrants out of the country. It now faces at least eight lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights.

“What’s concerning is that they’re very consistent, the number of reports is increasing and also the level of violence during these pushback incidents is also increasing."

Louise Donovan, communications officer for the UN Refugee Agency, Athens, Greece

“What’s concerning is that they’re very consistent, the number of reports is increasing and also the level of violence during these pushback incidents is also increasing,” said Louise Donovan, an Athens-based communications officer for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Donovan said it has been challenging to independently verify the details of last week’s case at the Turkish border. Her office is calling for an independent investigation. 

Related: ‘The best is yet to come': Thousands of Bulgarians return home during pandemic

After being pushed back from Greece, migrants must trudge through miles of rice fields such as this one. Without shoes or clothing, it’s a brutal experience. 


Durrie Bouscaren/The World

Pushbacks are not unique to Greece. Turkey has also been documented as pushing migrants back from its border with Iran.

Fewer people are making the dangerous trip to Europe, but the journey is getting deadlier. An estimated 111 migrants and refugees have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean region since Jan. 1.

Despite the risk, migrants in Turkey continue to walk to the Greek border in hopes of a safe crossing. 

In Ipsala, farmers say they regularly find groups of migrants hiding in their rice fields. Sometimes, people drown trying to cross the river over to Greece. Local village leaders regularly put out calls for clothing donations on WhatsApp.

In Ipsala’s main square, a woman named Sevinç Anne, or ‘Mother Sevinç,” sells fresh rounds of fried dough for two Turkish liras —  about $0.15. Many of her customers are the migrants who get off buses that arrive in town every night, she said.

“We collect shoes and socks for them when they get pushed back,” she said.

Related: A group of Haitian migrants says they were abused at the US-Mexico border. They’re suing the US govt.

“Sevinç Anne,” or ‘Mother Sevinç,” sells homemade rounds of fried dough in Ipsala’s main square. Many of her customers are migrants and refugees passing through on their way to the Greek border, or returning after a pushback. “They’re hungry and I feed them,” she says. “What can I do? I can’t let them go.”


Durrie Bouscaren/The World

Some stick around for a month or so, earning money at local factories before trying to cross again.

“They’re hungry and I feed them,” she said. “What can I do? I can’t let them go.” 

Editor's note: Translations from Hindi and Bengali provided by Muktadir Rashid.

Pope begins historic visit to Cyprus and Greece

Pope Francis will visit Cyprus and Greece with an apostolic visit from 2 to 6 December. This is the second visit to Cyprus of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church.

On the occasion of such a historic event, hundreds of believers from neighboring countries will travel to Cyprus, where they will take part in an ecumenical prayer, which the pontiff will conduct at the Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia.

A meeting of the Pope and the Cypriot president is scheduled for December 2. In addition, the pontiff will meet with the leaders of the Catholic Church of this island state, as well as with refugees. He is expected to take several migrants with him in an act of solidarity and humanity.

On Saturday, December 4, a liturgy will be held at an open stadium in Nicosia, led by the head of the Roman Catholic Church. On the same day, he will leave for Greece, where he will meet with the President and Prime Minister of this country, as well as local clergy.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will visit a center for receiving migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. Then he will return to Athens and conduct the liturgy, which will be broadcast to the whole world. On December 6, the pontiff will complete his visit and return to the Vatican, RIA Novosti reports.

Earlier, the Pope called the Mediterranean a “ great cemetery '', since a huge number of refugees are dying there, trying to get to the EU countries. He called for mercy to be shown to illegal migrants. The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to the pontiff's statement.


‘I’m still not free’: Aid workers who helped refugees in Greece face months of legal limbo

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>‘I’m still not free’: Aid workers who helped refugees in Greece face months of legal limbo

This week, Irishman Seán Binder and 23 other aid workers stood trial in Greece, accused of espionage, forgery and supporting a criminal organization. The judge ultimately ruled to refer the case to a higher court.

The WorldNovember 19, 2021 · 4:00 PM EST

Irish German Seán Binder stands outside a court in Mytilene port, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, Nov. 18, 2021. A group of 24 volunteers who took part in migrant rescue operations are on trial on the Greek island of Lesbos on smuggling-related charges in a case that has been strongly criticized by international human rights groups. 

Panagiotis Balaskas/AP

Irishman Seán Binder moved to the Greek island of Lesbos in 2017 to volunteer with a local search-and-rescue nongovernmental organization that helps refugees and migrants arriving off the coast. 

This week, Binder stood trial in Greece accused of espionage, forgery and supporting a criminal organization. He is one of 24 aid workers facing such charges. Binder said the offenses — which he denies — were intended to bring an end to nongovernmental organizations carrying out rescue missions of migrants at sea.

Related: In Greece, thousands of asylum-seekers are waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine

“There's an effort to stop search-and-rescue from taking place, because there is a false narrative that search-and-rescue, even if it's attempting to do something good, is actually causing more smuggling to happen."

Seán Binder

“There's an effort to stop search-and-rescue from taking place because there is a false narrative that search-and-rescue, even if it's attempting to do something good, is actually causing more smuggling to happen,” Binder said. 

Binder, who was born in Germany but grew up in Ireland, said he was moved to volunteer after seeing images on TV of refugees from countries like Syria embarking on harrowing boat trips to reach Europe. 

Seán Binder stands at the yard of a court before his trial in Mytilene port, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, Nov. 18, 2021. Activists linked to a migrant search-and-rescue group will be tried in court, facing espionage and other felony charges. 


Panagiotis Balaskas/AP

But one year after arriving on Lesbos, Binder along with his colleague, Sara Mardini, and several other volunteers with the now-defunct NGO Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI), were detained on a series of charges. 

Rights groups like Amnesty International condemned the arrests, saying the charges were farcical. ​​Human Rights Watch called the trial "politically motivated.” 

The conservative government in Greece is seen as having adopted an increasingly hard-line approach toward migrants since coming into office in 2019. The Greek Coast Guard Command has been accused of engaging in illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers arriving in their waters back to Turkey. 

Related: 'People are being abandoned in the middle of the sea': Claims that Greece pushes back migrants to Turkey are rising

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has vigorously rejected the claims. At a press conference in Athens recently, Mitsotakis became visibly irritated when questioned about it by a foreign journalist. The Coast Guard was out “rescuing people at sea every day,” he said. 

“Yes, we are intercepting boats that come from Turkey as we have the right to do in accordance with European regulation and waiting for the Turkish Coast Guard to come and pick them up to return them to Turkey,” he said. 

Related: A mental health crisis on Lesbos is worsening 

Hanne Beirens is the director of the Migration Policy Institute Europe.


Courtesy of Hanne Beirens

Hanne Beirens, director of the Migration Policy Institute Europe, an independent research group, said trials like these can send out a message to other humanitarian workers who are considering volunteering on rescue missions.

“Even if the court case in itself results in acquitting the person, while the case is pending, you send out a warning signal to all other individuals or NGOs who are considering or may be tempted to support refugees and migrants in their neighborhood,” she said.

Beirens pointed out that EU member states do have laws in place that can penalize anyone who facilitates the irregular entry of migrants. 

But Greece, along with nine other European countries, has included exemptions to those laws when the assistance takes place for humanitarian reasons. 

Beirens said the political landscape has clearly shifted over the last few years. Southern European countries like Spain, Italy, Malta and Greece have adopted a less tolerant attitude toward NGOs and it’s having a detrimental effect, she said.

"And the result is if you look at the number of NGOs that are working in the Mediterranean basin, that number has gone drastically down,” Beirens said.

Related: Activists protest migrant facility plan in Greece: ‘Greek islands will not be turned to prisons’ 

Binder and Sara Mardini are the most well-known of the activists on trial in Greece. 

Sara Mardini, a Syrian refugee, made international headlines in 2015 when, along with her sister, Yusra Sardini, they dragged their sinking refugee boat to safety. The sisters, both professional swimmers, dived into the water with two other men and swam 3 1/2 hours from Turkey to Greece, pulling the dinghy behind them. All 20 onboard survived. The Mardinis ended up in Germany and were granted asylum there. Yusra Mardini went on to compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016. Sara Mardini won a scholarship to Bard College in Berlin. 

Yusra Mardini, left, and her sister Sara Mardini, right, from Syria pose for a photo during a training session in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2015. The sisters were once swimming for their lives, after jumping off an inflatable boat that began taking on water carrying refugees to Greece. 


Michael Sohn/AP

But in 2018, Sara Mardini decided to postpone her studies and move to Lesbos and volunteer to help other refugees arriving by sea. Sara Mardini was not in Lesbos for the trial this week — she is barred from returning to Greece for seven years following her arrest in 2018.

Athens-based lawyer Zacharias Kesses who represents Binder and Sara Mardini said hundreds of volunteers have left the island of Lesbos since the aid workers’ arrests in 2018. Kesses believes that the activists and the NGO were specifically targeted because they were well-known in Greece.

“Mardini was a very, very high profile volunteer. I think that they targeted ERCI because it was one of the most active and most famous organizations on the island."

Zacharias Kesses, lawyer

“Mardini was a very, very high-profile volunteer. I think that they targeted ERCI because it was one of the most active and most famous organizations on the island,” the lawyer said.

The trial has attracted widespread international attention.

Irish lawmaker Grace O’Sullivan spoke in the EU parliament earlier this month about the case and appealed for the charges to be dropped.

"They stand accused of espionage because they use WhatsApp. They are accused of being members of a criminal organization, a humanitarian NGO, which worked with local authorities to distribute blankets and basic medical care. In short, they stand accused of showing humanity,” O’Sullivan said. 

Over 70 EU lawmakers have since signed an open letter supporting O’Sullivan’s appeal.

When the trial opened on Thursday in Lesbos, journalists were refused entry. Greek officials said it was due to COVID-19 restrictions. A short time later, proceedings were stopped because of a reported lack of interpreters. Then, the judge ruled that the case should be heard in a higher court and adjourned proceedings. 

Speaking outside the courthouse, Binder said he was frustrated with the outcome. 

“This just means months of more limbo as we wait for justice. I may not have been found guilty today, but effectively, I’m still not free. The criminalization of humanitarianism continues.”

Kesses, the lawyer, said he was disappointed with the postponement. But even if the trial had continued, Kesses pointed out that Binder and Sara Mardini face additional charges, including migrant smuggling and money laundering. 

No date has been set for that trial because it’s still in the investigative stage, Kesses said. In spite of his frustration, Binder said he will never regret his work with refugees and migrants on Lesbos.

“Regret trying to help people? No, of course not. No one should ever regret that.”

US, Canada and Mexico to hold talks at the White House

“MuiTypography-root-228 MuiTypography-h1-233″>US, Canada and Mexico to hold talks at the White HouseThe WorldNovember 18, 2021 · 10:45 AM EST

President Joe Biden waves towards the White House balcony in Washington, Nov. 17, 2021.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

US President Joe Biden will host trilateral talks with Canada and Mexico on Thursday at the White House. While the neighboring allies have to discuss their significant differences on migration, climate and trade issues, the summit will have a strong focus on furthering economic cooperation. The US is a top trade partner for Mexico and Canada and both countries are concerned by the US’ “Buy American” provision, central to the US president’s agenda, and a proposed tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles in the US that will favor US-based car makers. Protectionist policies could keep Canadian and Mexican companies from lucrative contracts and the countries plan to argue for a level playing field to lure EV supply chain manufacturers.

A trial for a group of 24 volunteers who took part in search-and-rescue operations of migrants at sea on the Greek island of Lesbos has been adjourned shortly after opening, after a judge ruled that the local court was not competent to hear the case. The defendants, made up of Greek and foreign nationals, including Syrian competitive swimmer Sara Mardini, are facing a myriad of charges ranging from espionage and assisting criminal activity. Aid groups and human rights organizations have criticized the trial as being politically motivated and have called for all charges to be dropped.

Hundreds of Iraqis have flown home from Belarus after nearly two weeks of tensions at the Poland-Belarus border. Some 2,000 people, mainly of Middle Eastern origin, were stranded at the border with security forces of both nations facing off. Belarusian state media reported that there were no more migrants at the makeshift camp along the border. At least 12 people died in the area. There were 430 Iraqis who registered for the repatriation flights, according to Iraq’s Consulate in Russia.

From The WorldMeet the 11-year-old on a mission to clean up the Seine

Alexandre de Fages de Latour and his son, Raphael, 10, are pictured near the Seine in Paris, where they fish out treasures — and junk.


Rebecca Rosman/The World

Raphael has dedicated his free time to fishing waste out of the Seine in Paris using a magnetic rod. He's already managed to pull out 7 tons of waste including electric bikes, scooters, scrap metal and cellphones.

Go behind the scenes with one of our correspondents.

Shirin Jaafari, a correspondent with The World since 2015, traveled to Afghanistan in July 2021 to report on the quickly evolving situation as the US withdrawal process was underway.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting from Herat days before the Taliban overtook the city.

Putting together stories in hostile environments is time- and resource-intensive. Make a gift today to support the work of Shirin and others here at The World. Thank you!

Double Take

You've heard of online colleges, but what about an embassy on the metaverse?

Barbados says it will be the world's first country to establish a digital embassy in a 3D digital world hosted by Decentraland. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade struck the deal for the virtual embassy set to open in January 2022. 

In case you missed itListen: New Delhi struggles with smothering smog

Morning haze and smog envelops the skyline after air quality fell to hazardous levels in New Delhi, India, Nov. 5, 2021.


Altaf Qadri/AP

Soaring pollution levels in New Delhi, India, have prompted officials to indefinitely close schools and some coal-based power plants. We hear from a climate analyst about the health implications and causes of the smothering smog. And, the Biden administration has announced a major new investment in vaccine manufacturing, with an aim to help address global inequalities. But critics say it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Plus, since the 1950s, Mexican painter and intellectual Frida Kahlo has been revered as a feminist icon. One of her famous self-portraits just sold for nearly $35 million — more than any other work of art from Latin America.

Don't forget to subscribe to The World's Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

UN climate report is a ‘code red for humanity’

UN climate report is a 'code red for humanity'

The World staff

People run away from the fire-devastated Sirtkoy village, near Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Aug. 1, 2021.


AP/File photo


Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

UN climate report
The planet is becoming increasingly hot, with human activity changing the climate in unprecedented ways, a new scientific report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, calling the situation a “code red for humanity.” The landmark report released on Monday, which is the first major review of the science of climate change since 2013, offered its most dire warnings yet: more extreme heat waves, droughts and flooding, with some changes now irreversible. “It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,” said report co-author Linda Mearns. But the report also suggested that catastrophe could be avoided if the world collectively acts fast.

With the United States rapidly withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Taliban are precipitously taking over provincial capitals across the country. On Monday, Taliban forces took control of Aybak, the capital of Samangan Province in the north of the country, in a deadly campaign, which followed the capture of three provincial capitals on Sunday. Maps of Afghanistan show the devastatingly quick work of the Taliban across large rural swaths of the country, while at the same time, waging assassination campaigns targeting senior government officials in the capital, Kabul.

A massive fire on Evia, Greece’s second largest island, continues its devastation for a seventh day on Monday. Firefighters and locals are working to contain the blaze and save what they can as the fire decimates forests, and burns homes and businesses on the rugged island. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. The fire on Evia is the most severe blaze in Greece, where dozens of other wildfires have been raging as the country faces its worst heat wave in three decades. The severe heat has also led to fires elsewhere in southeast Europe.

From The WorldNew study on nuclear testing in French Polynesia reveals France’s ‘censorship and secrecy’

France’s President Emmanuel Macron wears a flowers leis and seashell necklaces gestures as he speaks up on his arrival as the mayor Manihi John Drollet stands next to him at the Manihi Atoll, 312 miles northeast of Tahiti, French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean, Monday, July 26, 2021. 


Esther Cuneo/AP

It’s been nearly two decades since France stopped testing nuclear weapons in French Polynesia. But many across French Polynesia’s 118 islands and atolls across the central South Pacific were disappointed last month when President Emmanuel Macron, on his very first trip to the territory that France has controlled since 1842, failed to apologize for the nearly 200 nuclear tests conducted between 1966 and 1996.

After the revolution, Sudanese women ask what’s next?

Protesters gather in Khartoum demanding a faster pace to democratic reforms, in demonstrations that are marking the two-year anniversary of the uprising that led to the military’s ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, Dec. 19, 2020.


Marwan Ali/AP

Today in Sudan, women can freely wear their hair uncovered in public and wear pants. Women now hold top positions in leadership and genital mutilation has been banned.

Some women in Sudan say that the new government’s changes are a good start for undoing historic, gender-based oppression, but that the country has a long way to go on women’s rights.

Global hit

🎧 Here is the new collaboration single from Colombian trio Bomba Estéreo and Nigerian superstar Yemi Alade. The title is “Conexion Total” or Total Connection. Bomba Estéreo’s founder Simon Mejia says their music has always been inspired by Africa, and for Alade, music collaborations between Latin America and Africa are too few. We made a Spotify playlist with this and other global hits, curated by host Marco Werman and The World’s team. Enjoy 🎼

In case you missed itListen: Women in western Afghanistan fight for their lives

Afghan women walk on the road in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 13, 2021.


Mariam Zuhaib/AP

As fighting in western Afghanistan intensifies, thousands of women and children are forced to leave their homes. The UN estimates 270,000 Afghans have been displaced since January. Also, on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, a photographer roamed through the rubble of Hiroshima. His images of people exposed to the atomic blast were the only ones taken that day. And France dropped nearly 200 atomic bombs on French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996 as part of its nuclear testing program. During President Emmanuel Macron’s first visit to the territory last week, he acknowledged the damage but failed to apologize.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Greece ‘finally’ has its #MeToo moment 

Greece ‘finally’ has its #MeToo moment 

An Olympic medalist’s sexual assault allegations against a former coach have opened up a conversation about gender roles, discrimination, power dynamics and everyday sexism in Greek society.

Lydia Emmanouilidou

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Greek Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou poses for a photograph during an interview for The Associated Press, at Agios Kosmas marina in southern Athens, Feb. 4, 2021. Bekatorou is the most successful female athlete in Greek sporting history who recently revealed that she was the victim of a sexual assault, allegedly by a senior sports official in 1998. 


Thanassis Stavrakis/AP


An Olympic medalist’s testimony of sexual assault has sparked a #MeToo reckoning in one of Europe’s most conservative nations.

Since Greek sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou’s revelations in January against a top official in the sport, a wave of new accusations of sexual misconduct and other abuses by high-profile figures, including athletes and actors, has rocked several sectors in Greece.

Bekatorou, 43, alleged during an online conference in January that she was sexually assaulted by a high-ranking, Hellenic Sailing Federation (HSF) official in 1998, when she was 21 years old.

“I never imagined that in sports, I would face violence, let alone sexual violence.” 

Sofia Bekatorou, Greek sailing champion

“I never imagined that in sports, I would face violence, let alone sexual violence,” she said during the conference, which was organized by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Bekatorou — who won a gold medal in her sailing event at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, and a bronze four years later at the Beijing Games — said she decided to speak up to “preserve the health and safety” of young athletes.

Related: In Greece, a clergyman’s death reignites communion spoon debate

Bekatorou received an outpouring of support from big-name athletes and politicians, including Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and through social media under the #MeToo and #ΜετηΣοφία (#WithSofia) hashtags.

Gold medalist 🏅in sailing ⛵ Sofia #Bekatorou has now launched the Greek #metoo 🇬🇷movement. The tide has turned. #ΜεΤηΣοφια #Μπεκατωρου #Μπεκατώρου

— Katerina Glyniadaki (@Kat_Glyniadaki) January 16, 2021

Her story, and those of others who followed in her footsteps, have also opened up a conversation about gender roles, discrimination, power dynamics and everyday sexism in Greek society.

the last few weeks in #Greece, a #MeToo movement has awaken. The Greek heteronormative culture is a culture of silence and hypocrisy, but it’s great to see how, eventually, women’s narratives unravel its weakness.

— Konstantinos Argyriou (@konargr) January 27, 2021

“It’s huge,” said Athens-based lawyer Ioanna Stentoumi of the current moment in the country.

The Greek #metoo has started. It was about time! #Greece #Bekatorou #μπεκατώρου #μετηΣοφια ⛵ 🇬🇷

— Sylvia Traganida #wearamask 😷 (@sylviatra) January 24, 2021

Stentoumi, who deals primarily with cases of gender-based violence, says people of all backgrounds want to share their stories of abuse.

“I’ve received a lot of calls from people who want to express their anger and say, ‘This happened to me, too.’”

Ioanna Stentoumi, lawyer, ​​Greece

“I’ve received a lot of calls from people who want to express their anger and say, ‘This happened to me, too.’”

Stentoumi said she hopes attention on the issue will bring about changes in the process for reporting sexual abuse. She said the current system deters and traumatizes victims — as police officers are not adequately trained on these kinds of cases.

Also, people who want to report rape and other types of abuse often have to wait days to be examined due to a national shortage of medical examiners, Stentoumi said.

‘I heard comments every day’

The national dialogue unfolding in Greece is giving others hope, too — including some prominent athletes.

Related: An Afghan asylum-seeker lost his son in tragic boat journey to Greece. Now, he faces prison time.

“It was just sort of, finally, this moment came, I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” said Katerina Glyniadaki, a former player on the Greek National Basketball team.

Glyniadaki, who also played professional basketball in Italy and college basketball in the US, said that playing in Greece was a uniquely uncomfortable experience: There were the objectifying stares and remarks from people in the stands, she said, as well as sexist jokes and sexually inappropriate comments from coaches, team owners and managers.

“I heard comments every day,” Glyniadaki said. “Unfortunately, a lot of disgusting comments are disguised as humor. And you know as a female athlete that this makes you feel uncomfortable. You just don’t know how to put it into words or who to talk about this [with].”

Glyniadaki was a minor when some of this was happening. She and her teammates would sometimes talk among themselves but they didn’t feel they had anywhere to go for help.

“We didn’t feel like we had the power or the allies to go forward and make this an issue.”

Katerina Glyniadaki, former team mate, Greek National Basketball

“We didn’t feel like we had the power or the allies to go forward and make this an issue,” she said.

One reason was that there were virtually no women at the top. Even today, all 21 members of the Greek National Basketball Federation, the sport’s governing body, are men.

In Greece, the problem extends far beyond sports, said Glyniadaki, who has two master’s degrees in gender studies, including one that examines the role of women in Greek society. She pointed to statistics that show Greece lags far behind other European countries on gender equality.

Related: Widespread protests in Greece over coronavirus school safety

In 2019 and 2020, Greece ranked last on the Gender Equality Index of EU countries, an annual assessment. Greece consistently performs poorly in several areas, including the number of women in decision-making positions in government and beyond. Approximately 20% of seats in the Greek Parliament are held by women. Two of the 20 ministers in the current government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis are women.

Greece also has one of the lowest rates of women’s employment, and among the highest gender employment gaps in the European Union.

In this environment, conversations that challenge institutions still dominated by men have been stalled.

“This is a turning point for sure,” Glyniadaki said.

But people who are feeling empowered to speak are also facing a backlash.

“There’s … a lot of victim-blaming, a lot of slut-shaming. The environment around is very hostile for [women coming forward].”

Diana Manesi, Diotima feminist organization

“There’s … a lot of victim-blaming, a lot of slut-shaming,” said Diana Manesi, senior researcher with Diotima, a long-standing feminist nongovernmental organization in Greece. “The environment around is very hostile for [women coming forward].”

Gender violence starts with inequality 

Some abuse allegations have been met with skepticism and doubt. For example, after Bekatorou spoke up about the sexual abuse she claimed she endured as a young athlete, the Hellenic Sailing Federation issued a statement, calling it an “unpleasant incident,” and questioning why Bekatorou did not come forward sooner.

Related: Thousands of refugees sleep in streets after fire destroys Greece’s Moria camp

Manesi, the researcher, said the way Greek media are covering these stories is also troubling, and she pointed to one particular example: Recently, another sailing athlete anonymously shared that she was raped by her coach 10 years ago when she was 11 years old.

Greek TV channels invited the now 38-year-old coach on their programs, where he argued that he does not “feel like a rapist.”

Manesi said this is all painful to watch. But at the same time, she’s relieved that the country is finally talking. She says many women she knows have firsthand experiences with abuse, such as being followed on the street or harassed by university professors. “I have stories to say, also. I think that’s important,” she said.

Manesi said gender violence starts with inequality — and until the Greek state gets serious about implementing policies to address it, she does not expect to see a real shift in Greece.

Spyridoula Athanasopoulou-Kypriou, a feminist theologian in Athens, has been thinking about the role of the Greek Orthodox Church, a powerful and influential institution in Greece that is led exclusively by men, in all of this.

“I’m adamant that it is because of the church that things do not progress,” Athanasopoulou-Kypriou said.

While the church has publicly signed on to initiatives to combat gender-based violence, including domestic abuse, it “perpetuates inequality and violence against women” through its teachings and actions, Athanasopoulou-Kypriou said.

She added that church leaders and members often undermine people who come forward with abuse allegations by sympathizing with alleged perpetrators.  

“You have priests … who will tell you, ‘Poor guy, he was in a difficult situation. It was the pandemic. He has some problems.’” 

Spyridoula Athanasopoulou-Kypriou, feminist theologian, Greece

“You have priests … who will tell you, ‘Poor guy, he was in a difficult situation. It was the pandemic. He has some problems,’” Athanasopoulou-Kypriou said, speaking from personal experience.

She said wasn’t ready to share more details about that experience.

Change is happening 

Meanwhile, dozens of people continue to come forward. Currently, the spotlight is on the arts and entertainment industries, where almost daily, new allegations emerge against powerful directors, actors and other men in the field.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that things are changing,” said Thalassini Vostatzoglou, a young actor who is just beginning her career.

Vostatzoglou, who is the daughter of two well-known Greek actors, said she is thrilled to be entering the industry at a time when complacency, silence and abuse are finally being challenged.

Vostatzoglou’s mother, Dimitra Papadima, is one of the women who has come forward in recent weeks with sexual abuse allegations on the job.

Vostatzoglou said for years, the expectation in the industry was that abuse was part of the system.

“But a change is happening now,” she said. “And it is a big change.”

Under Greek law change, thousands of refugees could soon become homeless

Under Greek law change, thousands of refugees could soon become homeless

The Greek government says it wants to make room for asylum-seekers waiting out their applications in camps on the Greek islands and elsewhere. More than 6,000 refugees are at risk of being evicted and that number will keep growing every month.

Lydia Emmanouilidou

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Syrian refugee Lama Alnasef holds her 6-month-old son Abdalrahman as her other son Omar looks on in their apartment in Athens, Greece, June 18, 2020.


Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters 


When Bouri al-Kaidi and her four young kids got on a boat in Turkey to make the treacherous journey to Greece a few years ago, they had virtually no other choice.

They’re Yazidis — a religious and ethnic minority — from Sinjar in northern Iraq. In 2014, ISIS launched what the United Nations has now recognized as a genocide against Yazidis — murdering, kidnapping and raping thousands.

Kaidi says her own husband was kidnapped by ISIS. To this day, she still doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive.

Related: Life goes on in Greek refugee camp amid diplomatic tensions and pandemic

Kaidi and her four now children live in a small apartment 10 minutes outside of Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. As they went through the asylum process, they were able to get housing and a monthly stipend of 400 euros — that’s about $450 — through the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation (ESTIA) program, which is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.

Kaidi qualified for the program because she’s a single mom, and because of mental health issues she’s developed since her husband’s disappearance, she said. But recently, the payments stopped coming. And Kaidi was told she’d have 30 days, until July 1, to leave her apartment. Thousands of others face the same deadline because of a new law adopted by the Greek government earlier this year.

Under the law, adopted in March 2020, recognized refugees have 30 days to leave organized accommodations like ESTIA, and transition to living independently. Previously, the grace period was six months. The Greek government says it wants to make room for asylum-seekers waiting out their applications in camps on the Greek islands and elsewhere. Currently, more than 31,000 migrants and asylum-seekers are in overcrowded camps, living in unsanitary conditions as they wait for their asylum applications to be processed.

In a TV interview earlier in June, Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi said the government doesn’t have the capacity to give housing, a stipend, and other services both to people applying for asylum and to those who have already secured it.

Related: Refugees in Greece support each other through coronavirus pandemic

He suggested that the program is being abused by people who no longer qualify for it, and said that there are many in the program who secured asylum in 2018 and 2019 but are still receiving the benefits. Kaidi got asylum in 2018, but wasn’t aware of any rules that she had to leave after six months, she said. So, she decided to stay.

“It’s true that the people in the camps need to taken from the mud, the makeshift tents, the trash, the unsanitary conditions, and be put in a safe housing environment.”

Zoe Kokalou, Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS)

“It’s true that the people in the camps need to taken from the mud, the makeshift tents, the trash, the unsanitary conditions, and be put in a safe housing environment,” said Zoe Kokalou with the Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS), a nongovernmental organization that works with asylum-seekers in the ESTIA program.

“But it’s not right to take out the already-vulnerable so that we can bring the people from the islands. It needs to work another way.”

Nongovernmental organizations that coordinate ESTIA placements say the program was always meant to bring temporary relief to asylum-seekers.

“The goal of the ESTIA is to empower people to move on, on their own,” said Lefteris Papagiannakis of SolidarityNow, another NGO involved with the ESTIA program.

“But when you lack the next step, then you just put them on their own out on the street.”

The Greek government, he said, doesn’t have a solid integration plan for recognized refugees: to help them get jobs and long-term housing and learn the Greek language. He has little faith in HELIOS, an integration program funded by the European Commission.

Related: This Syrian is stuck at a makeshift border camp in Greece

“Greece has never worked with doing integration before. Now, it becomes increasingly difficult because the policy of the government changed. The narrative of the government changed. It became more toxic.” 

Lefteris Papagiannakis, SolidarityNow,

“Greece has never worked with doing integration before. Now, it becomes increasingly difficult because the policy of the government changed. The narrative of the government changed. It became more toxic,” Papagiannakis said, adding that the fairly new Greek government, which came into power last summer, has taken an increasingly anti-migrant stance.

Integration, Papagiannakis said, requires the cooperation of Greek society. Greeks need to employ refugees, rent out apartments to them. But people are less willing to do that in this environment.

“Because when you demonize refugees and then you ask from the whole society to show solidarity, it sends mixed messages and in an increasingly toxic environment. And people react. It makes complete sense.”

As for the ESTIA program, Papagiannakis said he doesn’t buy that the government has migrants’ best interests in mind. He points to the fact that just this month, the government said it was slashing 30% of the program’s budget.

Related: Cross-border tensions wreak havoc on bucolic Greek village

“It is all being done with an end goal to deter people from coming — making things difficult in order for people to be deterred,” he said.

Greece’s Migration and Asylum office did not respond to a request for an interview.

Thousands of refugees are now waiting to see how the new rules will be enforced. More than 6,000 are at risk of being evicted and that number will keep growing every month.

As Kaidi’s deadline approaches July 1, she says she hasn’t been able to get any sleep and doesn’t know what will come next for her family. She does know that she doesn’t want to stay in Greece. When she and her kids get the right travel documents, she wants to try to go to Germany and reunite with some family members who have made it there. 

In Greece, refugees and migrants turn to each other to get through coronavirus pandemic

In Greece, refugees and migrants turn to each other to get through coronavirus pandemic

Fahrinisa Campana

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Arash Hampay and a group of volunteers pack and distribute “hope bags” for refugees and the homeless in Athens, Greece. 


Fahrinisa Campana/The World


On a warm April evening in downtown Athens, Greece, Arash Hampay was handing out pink, plastic shopping bags filled with food, soap, hand sanitizer and face masks to refugees and the homeless.

It’s his way of helping the community fight against the coronavirus.

“Just imagine thousands of homeless and refugee families that live on the street. They don’t have the money to go to a hotel or rent a house, and they don’t have the money to buy masks, so how can they protect themselves. Who has to help them?”

Arash Hampay, community acvitist and volunteer, Athens, Greece

“Just imagine thousands of homeless and refugee families that live on the street,” said Hampay, an Iranian refugee who arrived in Greece in 2016. “They don’t have the money to go to a hotel or rent a house, and they don’t have the money to buy masks, so how can they protect themselves. Who has to help them?”

Related: This beloved school gave migrants on Lesbos an escape. A fire turned it to rubble.

Greece closed schools and other places where large groups of people congregate on March 10, and imposed a countrywide lockdown on March 23. Its early and prolonged measures to combat COVID-19 has meant fewer confirmed cases or deaths than many other European countries. As of Thursday, Greece had reported 2,463 cases of COVID-19 and 125 deaths.

Also on Thursday, Greece extended its lockdown by a week to May 4, saying any relaxation would be staggered over May and June. The government has been praised for being proactive to protect its citizens, but concern is mounting over the plight of refugees and migrants.

Dozens of refugees — including many single-parent families — accommodated at a hostel in southern Greece tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. The hostel, quarantined since April 16, is the the third refugee facility in the country to be hit by the virus.

Related: Cross-border tensions over migrants wreak havoc on bucolic Greek village

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in Greece, some have sounded the alarm about the lack of resources allocated toward the 115,000 refugees and migrants the country hosts. And now, at least two camps have been put on total lockdown due to a sudden surge in cases. That means tens of thousands of refugees can’t leave their settlements to get basic supplies.

In the absence of adequate support, some refugees have taken it upon themselves to find their own solutions. That includes Hampay, who, before coming to Athens, lived with his younger brother in the infamous Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.

Hampay has long been an active humanitarian and activist. When his brother was held in immigration detention after they first got to Greece, and threatened with deportation back to Turkey, Hampay held a monthlong hunger strike while camping out in the main square in Mytilini.

Arash Hampay smokes in front of Cafe Patogh before the volunteers arrive to start packing and distributing the “hope bags” in Athens, Greece.


Fahrinisa Campana/The World 

The Greek government has granted refugee status to the brothers, and they have relocated to Athens where they share an apartment. In 2018, Hampay opened a community center in the neighborhood to help feed poor people in the city. It’s called Cafe Patogh, which means “hangout” in Farsi.

Now, with the coronavirus outbreak, Hampay sees an even greater need to support refugees and locals struggling to protect themselves. Finding other volunteers to help with the supermarket shopping and preparing the food bags, which they call “hope bags,” has never been an issue.

Related: Xenophobia ‘takes its toll’ as Trump works to curb immigration

On any given afternoon, at least a dozen volunteers, all refugees like himself, help Hampay dole out food and supplies. Recently, they had prepared two dozen bags, though the number varies day by day — they try to give out food every night, but don’t always have the money. 

Securing consistent funding for the bags has been difficult. Hampay isn’t running a formal nonprofit, at least not yet — he’s hired a lawyer and begun the process of registering the community center as a nongovernmental organization, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, everything has stalled.

Instead, Hampay gets funds for what he’s doing in more informal ways — by word of mouth and social media. He has PayPal linked to his social media so that he can receive donations.

Arash Hampay shows his Instagram account where he makes announcements about pickup times for “hope bags” in Athens, Greece. It’s his way to help in the fight against the coronavirus — bringing much-needed supplies and food to refugees and the homeless. 


Fahrinisa Campana/The World 

This week, he put a call out for help covering the community center’s rent and utility bills, which are still due even though the place is closed under the lockdown restrictions. Hampay needs to raise nearly 1,500 euros ($1,622) to keep the community center running. He also needs help paying for the hope bags, which cost a little over 9 euros, or $10 apiece to put together.

“They can send it to our PayPal, but I will show you our PayPal — 9 euros, 3 euros, 2 euros.” 

Arash Hampay, community acvitist and volunteer, Athens, Greece

“They can send it to our PayPal, but I will show you our PayPal — 9 euros, 3 euros, 2 euros,” he said with a laugh. Two euros is worth about $2.

Still, he usually has enough money to put some cooking oil, rice, pasta and fresh vegetables in the bags. “When we have good money, we put also sometimes meat and more things.” 

Though this month will be tight, Hampay remains upbeat.

Related: Can Asia’s largest armed group fend off coronavirus?

He hummed as he placed the bright, pink bags in a line outside the door of the community center. Most people who receive the bags know what time to arrive for pickup, but for newcomers to Athens, he spreads the word with short videos on Instagram.

Arash Hampay, who is an Iranian refugee, is trying to bring food and supplies to other refugees and the homeless in Athens, Greece.


Fahrinisa Campana/The World 

As a recognized refugee who doesn’t live in one of the many refugee camps spread across Greece, Hampay has an unusual amount of freedom. But he knows many others aren’t as fortunate.

Sohaila Shojayie is a 15-year-old asylum-seeker from Afghanistan who lives with her family in a tent in the Moria refugee camp. Roughly 20,000 people are crammed into the camp that was built to hold under 3,000.

“Moria itself is a virus for asylum-seekers. There’s no soap, nothing,” she said over WhatsApp. Like everyone, Shojayie is worried about the coronavirus and the potential for a massive outbreak in the camp.

“So, some of us Afghan girls and women, we started working hard making masks for our people, for the asylum-seekers. We want to avoid getting coronavirus at Moria camp.”

Sohaila Shojayie, 15-year-old asylum-seeker from Afghanistan

“So, some of us Afghan girls and women, we started working hard making masks for our people, for the asylum-seekers. We want to avoid getting coronavirus at Moria camp,” she said.

Shojayie and her peers are producing more than 6,000 masks a day, which they’re able to do with the support of an NGO called Team Humanity. The NGO has been arranging weekly deliveries of mask-making materials — including professional-grade, polypropylene nonwoven fabric.

Salam Aldeen, the founder of Team Humanity, says the mask-making team can supply each camp resident with two masks every three or four days.

“We’re distributing them in the camp with two pieces of soap to each person,” he said. “They’re reusable, and people can wash it. We [give] them also a flyer where it says in four languages how to wash their hands, how to boil the mask — you can boil it in water if you cannot wash it — and you need to do it two times in a day.”

So far, Moria camp has managed to avoid an outbreak of the coronavirus. Shojayie hopes that she and the other volunteers will be able to keep it that way.

“The refugees are happy and appreciate us,” Shojayie said. “They said that if they hadn’t gotten these masks from us, then where would they be able to get them from?”

Recently, Greek authorities have stepped up actions to protect some refugees. Over the weekend of April 18, when most Greeks were celebrating Greek Orthodox Easter in their homes, the government transferred 49 unaccompanied minors from island camps to Germany.

They’re also promising to relocate people who are especially vulnerable to hotels on the mainland. The plan has hit a snag, however, over concerns of spreading the virus. The move will now likely take place on April 25 and with a smaller number than the 2,000 originally announced.

For at least some refugees stuck in the camps, they often have to turn to each other to try to fill whatever gaps they can.

“Here we are taking care of each other,” Shojayie said. 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

Jaden – I Lyrics

Play this song



When I walk up they be sweating they be stressed
(They be stressed)
When they see us double everything in question
(i don’t know)
Treat these niggas like a prick gotta impress em’
Got that power in a clique like a nephilim

{ Verse 1 }
I ju woke up in the city and im red to go (GO)
Vision with the pretty got me runnin through the club
Bout to see the stadium im with my centerfold
God hand shades where these levels arent accessible (shit)

I wonder if they’ll understand the metaphors (they don’t know)
Said it for a reason they dont listen (they dont listen)
I had to put the vision in a double cup
Everytime i sippin i’ll be (dripping man lets go)

Man its ok you ain’t one of us
Thats why I had to get the windows tinted
I swear solos got them new ideas
Man they wonder how they let this nigga pop up in a bib
Got me calling hocka – pocka with my compass in the mill
Got them dickies in a balance since they counter fit the feels
Man you gotta know the culture you’re apart man its ill
Sickening but i try to not do them ancient moves
Sixteen with a misdemeanor
That is no volts are you kidding me
This is a kid saying this literally
Tell with you with the with the epidemy
Turn your rights away like whipamine
Throw your life away with no empathy
Man this nightmare been on repeat
Yall never learn history god damn
We all care about ancient greece so bad
Gotta put that energy on snap
Old hove flip told me to go left
Hold me what u would call off deck

When I walk up they be sweating they be stressed
(They be stressed)
When they see us double everything in question
(i don’t know)
Treat these niggas like a prick gotta impress em’
Got that power in a clique like a nephilim

Jon Bellion – JT Lyrics

[Verse 1: Jon Bellion & Travis Mendes]
A song a day for six years seems like light years away from today
(Hey, hey, hey, hey)
Too many coincidences and instances of God’s hand, it’s insane
(Hey, hey, hey, hey)
I thought my way to greatness
I could claim this, but he gave me the brain (Hey, hey, hey, hey)
You know what I’m saying?
And those thoughts can get confusing, it’s amusing
But tonight, we celebrate (Hey, hey, hey, hey)

[Pre-Chorus: Jon Bellion]
Lay me down, put me out
Call me home, let me know
I’m ready to go
‘Cause I was down, now, I’ve flown
Oh, what’s reality lately?

[Chorus: Jon Bellion]
Remember dreams seemed far away
Was pinching pennies like Lane and Hardaway
Now my beats make feasts for holidays in Greece
And I don’t mean John Travolta
Remember dreams seemed far away
Was pinching pennies like Lane and Hardaway
Now my beats make feasts for holidays in Greece
And I don’t mean John Travolta
And I don’t mean John Travolta, yeah
And I don’t mean John Travolta

[Verse 2: Jon Bellion & Travis Mendes]
Dancing under sunset, in the mountains, just reflecting for the day
(Hey, hey, hey, hey)
I’ve seen this in my head a million times
But to see it come to life is just insane (Hey, hey, hey, hey)
Champagne and orange juice
Mimosas were Pulp Fiction in the way (Hey, hey, hey, hey)
That all can get confusing, it’s amusing, but tonight (Celebrate)

[Pre-Chorus: Jon Bellion]
Lay me down, put me out
Call me home, let me know
I’m ready to go
‘Cause I was down, now, I’ve flown
Oh, what’s reality lately? (Oh)

[Chorus: Jon Bellion]
Remember dreams seemed far away
Was pinching pennies like Lane and Hardaway
Now my beats make feasts for holidays in Greece
And I don’t mean John Travolta
Remember dreams seemed far away
Was pinching pennies like Lane and Hardaway
Now my beats make feasts for holidays in Greece
And I don’t mean John Travolta

[Bridge: Jon Bellion]
Put me out
Call me home, let me know
I’m ready to go
‘Cause I was down, now, I’ve flown
Oh, what’s reality lately? (Oh)

[Chorus: Jon Bellion]
Remember dreams seemed far away
Was pinching pennies like Lane and Hardaway
Now my beats make feasts for holidays in Greece
And I don’t mean John Travolta
Remember dreams seemed far away
Was pinching pennies like Lane and Hardaway
Now my beats make feasts for holidays in Greece
And I don’t mean John Travolta

[Outro: Jon Bellion]
Far away, Hardaway
Holiday, don’t mean John Travolta
Far away, Hardaway
Holiday, don’t mean John Travolta
Lay me down, put me out
Call me home
(Holiday, don’t mean John Travolta)
(Don’t mean John Travolta)
Call me home
I’m ready to go

Usher – She Ain’t Tell Ya lyrics

Every story got more than one side
Today I’mma tell you my side
I hurt you, you hurt me
Even exchange, listen

She ain’t tell ya I let her push the ‘rari
She ain’t tell ya I never told her sorry
She ain’t tell ya she let me hit her partners
She ain’t tell ya I paid for her body yeah
She ain’t tell ya I let her push the ‘rari
She ain’t tell ya I never told her sorry no
She ain’t tell ya she let me hit her partners
No, she ain’t tell ya I paid for that body no

She ain’t tell ya that money spread it out like carpet
She ain’t tell ya I had her leaking like a faucet
She ever tell you, she ain’t have no love for papi
She ain’t tell you I gotta keep that cash on me (yuh)
She ain’t tell you I gotta keep the bag on me
She ain’t tell you I boost her self-esteem did she?
No she didn’t tell you she’d rather play on my team, did she?
I know she told you things she didn’t mean, did she?
She ain’t tell you she seen three million dollars in jewelry
She ain’t tell you the truth or did she cause I’m curious
She ain’t tell you that check did increase my endurance
She ain’t tell you materialistic girls attract me
She ain’t tell you every time she leave, she coming back for me
She ain’t tell you I got that Bentley truck and cashed down
She ain’t tell you these plush seats feel like a couch
She ain’t tell you I paid off her mama house
And I know my love leave a stain without a doubt
She ain’t gon’ tell you how I came through and put it down
She ain’t gon’ tell you how we like to club up with all these bottles
She ain’t gon’ tell you how I came through last night with sixty models
And I can’t tell you ’bout no issues or no problems
And she ain’t tell you how I flaunt her up in karats
I promise on my soul I’m never gon’ be average
Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah (she ain’t tell you that shit though)
She ain’t tell you I’m in her veins like IV
She ain’t tell you we just came back from Greece
She ain’t tell you that my bank account increased
She didn’t tell you was the middle of the week then
We woke up on Wednesday and took a spree
She ain’t tell you she was motivating me
She ain’t tell you her designer bag came from me
She ain’t tell you her legs stretched out in Lamborghini seats (no)
If I ain’t laying next to her then she can’t even sleep
When she pull up she be tryna stay with me for weeks
Call me the general, you know I play for keeps
She ain’t tell you I sting like Muhammad Ali

She ain’t tell ya I let her push the ‘rari
She ain’t tell ya I never told her sorry no
She ain’t tell ya she let me hit her partners no
She ain’t tell ya I paid for her body yeah
She ain’t tell ya I let her push the ‘rari
She ain’t tell ya I never told her sorry
She ain’t tell ya she let me hit her partners
She ain’t say I paid for her body no
Oh nah, she said, he said
Fuck what they said, no, no

Don’t be bitter, just be better
If I hurt you and you hurt me
How you paint yourself as unlucky?

SamTheBozz – Greece lyrics

Im in Greece for the holiday
Im in Greece for the warm weather
I love the sea and the feta cheese
I love seawater and just Greece

I love the fish I love the gyro
To the olives I say hell no
Greece is nice, Greece is beautiful
In this country I feel so wonderful
I love the dogs I love cats
Forgot all my stupid WhatsApp chats
O.T everybody mad
J.B is the real bad

Im in Greece for the holiday
Im in Greece for the warm weather
I love the sea and the feta cheese
I love seawater and just Greece