Athens has decided to proceed with the gradual closure of the Lavrio refugee camp, which has long been accused by Ankara of being a hideout for terrorists under the guise of being asylum-seekers, due to “the unsuitability of the site to continue hosting refugees.”
In a step that could further strengthen the ties with Türkiye which has sprouted after the deadly incidents in the past two months, the Greek government has decided to close the camp.
Though not officially announced yet, the camp will be evacuated on the grounds of “the danger of earthquake collapse,” according to Greek media. The camp will be allocated for the use of the Municipality of Lavreotiki.
The municipality briefed the Ministry of Migration and Asylum last December on a notice highlighting the risk of building collapse in the event of a moderate earthquake as part of the camp was built in the late 1940s, the daily Kathimerini said.
After the municipality was notified about the approximately 150 refugees residing at the camp, 100 were transferred to other shelters in Attica, the paper wrote, specifying that the 50 remained are expected to be transferred to some of these structures soon.
ANT1 television, meanwhile, claimed that some of the PKK members in the camp were opposed to being transferred to another place.
In the last three years of high tensions in Greek-Turkish relations, a number of high-ranking Turkish officials have raised the issue of a “terrorist training camp” in Lavrio in public and during contact with representatives of the Greek state.
Athens has repeatedly denied this accusation, which Ankara has used many times in its claim that Greece is fostering terrorism.
Despite a history of rivalry that goes back centuries and the strained ties in the past few years over the clash of interests in the Mediterranean, the two neighbors have stepped up for solidarity over deadly incidents in the past two months.
Greece was among the first countries to send rescue teams and offer aid to Türkiye after the devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias paid a visit to Türkiye in a show of support after the quakes.
Accordingly, immediately after the train crash in northern Greece, in which 57 people lost their lives, Türkiye offered condolence and aid.
After the accident, Türkiye allowed the transfer of a Greek prisoner to Greece to attend his son’s funeral.