Former member of the Turkish army turned peace activist Yannis Vasilis Yaylalı told Mezopotamya Agency that the fate of refugees in Lavrio Camp was shaped by the relationship between Turkey and Greece, and said the camp’s closure was orchestrated in collaboration with NATO.
On 5 July, Greek police conducted a dawn raid on a refugee camp near Athens, evicting Kurdish refugees sheltering in the Lavrio camp.
The timing of the evacuation, before the 11 July NATO summit in Vilnius, was interpreted by media as a gesture by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Yaylalı, who resides in Greece, believes pressure from the bloc and the United States also affected the Greek government.
The camp had been hosting refugees for approximately 70 years, with its Kurdish population rising after the 1980 military coup in Turkey. Conditions in the camp fluctuates in line with the relationship between Turkey and Greece, Yaylalı said.
“The camp had previously faced attacks, but assaults intensified under Mitsotakis. Greece has always used this camp as leverage against Turkey. When relations with Turkey deteriorated, the pressure on the camp eased, but whenever relations normalised, they targeted Lavrio Camp without hesitation. The current events demonstrate this to us,” he said.
For Kurds, the evacuation of the camp was “the final straw,” according to Yaylalı. The activist believes the “mistake” should be corrected at once.