Peter Kenyon

The Greek island of Lesbos has been transformed from a dream vacation spot to a haven of a different sort — for Syrians and Iraqis, a place free from the horrors of war back home. From here, those who've survived the crossing from Turkey can try to press further on to countries in central and northern Europe.

The obstacles ahead don't seem nearly as difficult as the ones they left behind. Many are carrying jagged memories of the savage violence they escaped. Their greatest hope is that their children will be spared what they went through.

International sympathy for Syrians, Iraqis and other migrants traveling toward Europe at great cost has not stilled a persistent debate: Are these refugees fleeing persecution, as the asylum laws say? Or are they economic migrants seeking a better life in a developed country? And if they make it to Turkey or Jordan or Lebanon, as some 4 million Syrians have to date, why don't they stay there?

A visit to both ends of the short, treacherous voyage from Turkey across the Aegean Sea to Greece provides some clues.

In Turkey, Waiting To Risk Everything

To a visitor, it seems like a curious bit of territory for the Turkish military and the Kurds to be fighting over: steep rocky hills covered in brown windblown grass divided by patches of green forestland.

But if you get off the main road, and follow a gravel track into the hills, a makeshift camp emerges. This is where Kurdish activists have put themselves in the line of fire between the Turkish army and the youth faction of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or the PKK.

In Washington, Turkey is seen as an important ally in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Syria and Iraq. But Ankara is also struggling to quell a resurgent conflict with its own Kurdish minority.

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If the nuclear deal with Iran is implemented, Tehran stands to gain a lot of money. There are differing estimates of exactly how much: The U.S. Treasury Department has said something on the order of $100 billion is in blocked overseas Iranian accounts, while Iran's Central Bank governor puts the figure closer to $29 billion.

Whatever the exact amount, critics like Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham say that kind of cash will allow Tehran to make bad situations in the Middle East even worse.

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Now to Turkey, where an attack has touched off accusations that the government is too lenient on extremists. This is the sound of what happened during a meeting of young activists Monday at a Kurdish community center near the Syrian border.

The U.N. Security Council endorsed a historic nuclear deal with Iran on Monday, and it immediately drew complaints from hard-liners in Tehran as well as from lawmakers — particularly Republicans — in the U.S.

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After four years of war, Syrians are everywhere in Istanbul — on street corners, squatting in abandoned buildings. But a new venture run by Syrian and Turkish book lovers aims to be a cultural oasis for Arabic readers, and, along the way, give Turks a fuller picture of the Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans increasingly filling the city.

In a painstakingly restored old wooden house in a working class neighborhood, Syrians, Iraqis and Turks mingled recently amid the shelves of the Pages bookstore.

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Mutlu Kaya is gifted with a strong, pure voice, and it nearly cost her her life. Or rather, many Turkish women say, it was the reaction to her singing by the men in Kaya's life. She's in the hospital, a bullet in her skull.

It started with a visit to Kaya's hometown by well-known Turkish folk singer Sibel Can. Can was a judge on a moderately popular TV singing show, and she was convinced Kaya could be a star.

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A century after Ottoman forces massacred an estimated 1 to 1.5 million Armenian Christians, some of the remaining Armenian Turks are taking tentative steps out into the open. They survived because their ancestors were taken in by Muslim families and raised as Muslims.

Now, thanks in part to a somewhat more tolerant climate in Turkey, their descendants, known as "hidden Armenians," are coming out of hiding.

Heads of state and thousands of guests traveled to the windswept shores of western Turkey on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of one of World War I's most infamous battles. The Gallipoli campaign saw Ottoman forces, fighting under German command, repel an Allied attack led by Britain and France.

Nine months of fighting left a half-million dead and wounded on both sides. The Allies withdrew, setting in motion events that would leave the region forever changed.

Armenians are preparing to mark on Friday the 100th anniversary of the killing of as many as 1.5 million of their ancestors by the Ottoman Empire. And Turks are getting ready to celebrate the centennial of a major military victory by the Ottoman forces over the Allied powers at Gallipoli in World War I.

Turkey traditionally holds the Gallipoli ceremonies on April 25, which falls on Saturday this year. But it is moving up the events by one day to Friday in what critics call a clumsy attempt to overshadow Armenian Remembrance Day.

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Diplomats seeking the framework of a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief are taking leave of Switzerland — but only for a few days.

"Yes, we are all leaving," a smiling Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said as he walked past reporters at the luxury Beau Rivage Hotel in Lausanne, site of the 1920s treaty that finally dissolved the Ottoman Empire.

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Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

U.S. and Iranian negotiators wrapped up nuclear talks in a venerable lakefront luxury hotel in Geneva on Monday, with an American official saying, "We made some progress," but adding, "there's still a long way to go."

The sides are trying to close the gaps in their positions on what the future of Iran's nuclear program should be and when sanctions against Iran might be lifted. The U.S. official says they'll be back at the table next Monday.

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