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Greece trapped: They are closing borders , said @imouzalas

“Decision to exclude #Afghans violates summit agreement”, said @imouzalas, “though it was not a written one…” We are trapped.

Those kind of “individual” countries’ decisions in its territory, Europe proves to be unable to handle, or avoid. Greece will pay the unbearable, unthinkable cost , but we should definitely have a plan, said @imouzalas , Monday 22, the closed-FYROM- #borders day .

See more  on vima article Mouzalas: “Decision to exclude Afghans violates summit agreement”

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This is the #Borders Management List for #Greece. #Cruise and #yacht travelers will also be screened

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According to the draft Council implementing decision that set the 50 points  Recommendation for Greece to address deficiencies identified by the European Commission in the 2015 Schengen evaluation, vacationers on crusie ships or yachts should also be checked on the Aegean islands of Greece, among other measures on refugees identification and relocation proceedures.

Greece’s Urgent to-do List

The draft was leaked by Satewatch, the European civil liberties watchdog.These are some points :

  •  irregular migrants not to be allowed to stay or enter EU countries

Greece should “clearly state in the documents of ‘suspension of removal’ which are provided to the irregular migrants during the registration process, that the document does not give the irregular migrant the right to stay and enter other member states, and include, where necessary, certain obligations aimed at avoiding the risk of absconding”, the paper reads.

  • illegal immigrants to be returned

The Council also asks Greece to immediately start the procedures for returning illegal immigrants who do not apply for asylum and are not in need of international protection, and rapidly transfer them to Turkey in accordance with the bilateral readmission agreement between Athens and Ankara.

  • Athens to safeguard surveillance on whole sea border

Athens is also asked to improve sea border surveillance by creating an integrated and effective coastal surveillance system covering the “whole” sea border between Greece and Turkey.

“The surveillance system should provide the possibility to detect all vessels, including small boats that are crossing the sea border from Turkey to Greece; in order to identify, detect and apprehend illegal border crossers, the system should be supported by an offshore element: offshore patrol boats and vessels, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and other means, as well as a sufficient number of land patrols on the island.”

  • first line border guards on alert

The recommendation also says that Greece should familiarise first line border guards with foreign terrorist fighters risk indicators, as well as consider cooperating with the Turkish border control authorities at the local level “as it exists at the land border with Turkey”.

  •     checks on crusie ships and pleasure yachts

The recommendation provides for checks on cruise ships based on the crew and passenger list, and on pleasure yachts coming from third countries at a border crossing points

 

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Criminalizing Volunteers 

Since the end of January 2016,  the European civil liberties watchdog Statewatch, had also released confidential documents revealing  the European Union plans to criminalize charities and volunteers who help refugees arriving on Greek islands.

The documents revealed that EU interior ministers who met in Amsterdam on January 27, 2016 want to criminalize as “smugglers” charities, local people, volunteers and scores of international humanitarians who have traveled to Greece to help pull drowning refugees from the sea and feed and offer dry clothes as they land on Greek island, Euractiv wrote.

Instead, the Council wants to create a state-run mechanism that forces people to register and work under EU-sanctioned rescue and relief plans, added Euractiv

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, stated that

“The (European) Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who “register” with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to “register” to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.”

 The story was first broken by The Times in London and all corresponding documents, including the leaked European Commission report, have been placed on Statewatch’s website. Statewatch’s full report is here.

 

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Right-wing Germany asking for shootings 

Frauke Petry, leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper that Germany needed to reduce the influx through agreements with neighbouring Austria and a reinforcement of the EU’s external borders.

Deterrence includes the use of armed force ,Frauke Petry said

She said it should not be shy about turning people back and creating “border protection installations” – and that border guards should, if necessary, shoot at migrants trying to enter illegally.

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 Merkel’s promise to turn All refugees back  

Mrs Merkel has said: “We need … to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once ISIS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained.”

Mrs Merkel said 70 per cent of the refugees who fled to Germany from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned.

She urged other European countries to offer more help “because the numbers need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in spring”.

 

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Greek Minister :Nato will blow the smigglers networks

 “[The smugglers] have used networks, infrastructure, the sea, and land roads through which they have been trafficking weapons, drugs, human trafficking, and cigarettes in the Mediterranean,”

Alternate Minister of  Greecce’s International Affairs , Xydakis stressed today talking to the Euractiv.

Referring to NATO’s role in Aegean, Xydakis said: “We know that NATO’s military assistance will be a deterrence means, it cannot rescue but it can collect information and deal a blow to smugglers.”

Asked by EurActiv whether that could take place at sea, the Greek official said that operations should also take place in the coastal areas of Turkey.

“As long as Turkey is part of NATO, we believe that something positive could happen. We need to break the smugglers network.”

 

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  Europeanising the Hotspots 

Belgian Interior Minister Theo Francken said that Greece “clearly lacks” the ability to handle the situation and that is why he called for the “Europeanisation of the hotspots in Greece.”

In essence, the Minister suggested that hotspots should act as a European waiting room, from where migrants that are not entitled to international protection (asylum) are returned to their country of origin.

Theo Francken for whom the Greek Migration Minister Mouzalas revealed that he  told him to “drive them back into the sea; go against the law; I’m sorry, but I do not care if they drown.”

 

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The EU Commission is to blame. Nothing was done 3-4 years ago

Europe is on the brink of collapse due to the “foolish and short-minded illusions” of EU member states, Gianni Pittella is the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) chief in the European Parliament said in an interview on Euractiv.

We are now facing the crumbling of Schengen, because nothing was done 3-4 years ago, when Greece and Italy were saving people from drowing in the Mediterranean, to the general indifference of all other member states. Having said this, we should all thank Greece for continuing to save thousands of refugees on an everyday basis, despite its difficult economic outlook. I do believe that Greek authorities must be helped concretely by Europe in order to fill gaps in the registration process. Again and again, selfish national rhetoric means that member states continue to look at the finger rather than the moon. Greece is not the problem.

The problem stems from the fact that the relocation system doesn’t work, nobody knows where to go, and who should pay, to return those who have no right for refugee status. The outdated Dublin system must be revised and Frontex has not yet started supporting member states in the control of external borders. Do we want to blame Greece for this? That’s a far too simplistic a response.

Honestly, the EU Commission has delivered here. Who is lagging behind? Who is not living up with the expectations? The member states.

Europe risks collapse as a result of the foolish and short minded illusion that we can face this problem by raising walls, closing borders, setting thresholds, discriminating on the basis of religion, or building a mini-Schengen.

Let’s start by penalising non-cooperation and rewarding those who cooperate.

 

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“Schengen countries are just watching  “, Mayor of Lesvos to CNN

But instead of financial support, the European Union is now slamming Greece, claiming that it has not acted properly to patrol the continent’s borders.aid Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos, talking recently to the CNN 

“The Schengen countries are just watching this crime happening in the world and they didn’t take any action when it was happening”

 

 

 

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“Is it #Turkophobia”? to @PrimeministerGR

 

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Historically, Greece prefers a peaceful diplomacy to neighbor Turkey. Often, this becomes even friendly. Truth is , that this peaceful intention makes sometimes Greece’s stance to seem almost “speechless”

The Greek Prime Minister’s office said Greece’s government “strongly complained via the diplomatic path that such claims are absolutely unacceptable according to the international law” and chose to not further raise tensions.

The e-mailed statement verifies reports in local media, Xinqua today , (ten days later) wrote, that on Feb. 6 Ankara prevented the aircraft from landing on the Greek island of Rhodes for refueling and then continuing its trip to Teheran flying over Turkish airspace.

Turkish authorities argued that the plane was considered a military aircraft since it had military pilots,

therefore could not land on Rhodes and then fly over Turkey, since “the island is a demilitarized zone.” Athens does not recognize the claim.

Ankara suggested the plane  ( reminding, which was carrying the Greek PM)  to land for refueling in Turkey instead of the Greek island Rhodes for which the Greek Air plan was suggesting,  and then continue the journey with Ankara’s overflight permission

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos elaborated speaking to Greek Star  TV  on Nikos Hatzini9koloaou New show , answering to questions of Defense Reporter Paris Karvounopoulos.

The incident, by the way,  occurred opn the special timing of the two countires Greece and Turkey’s historic agreement to cooperate under NATO’s umbrella in the Aegean Sea to manage the refugee flows from Turkey to Europe.

“We ALL need to find  us a good … national psychologist!”

comments Paris Karvounopoulos on his article in the new Militaire.gr site on GreekDefense and Military Affairs.

“To address the “tourkophobia” , the credible reporter explains ,  “which has held for decades Greece’s position on a not-at-all-provocative response to any aggressive or furious provocation from Turkey’s side that could be shown. But let’s not get it to the edge,” Karvouynopoulos adds, “and find oursleves always willingly to do all Ankara’s favors”.

“How could be, a Greek Prime Minister himself not to be allowed to land the PM airplane on Greek land. And finally, Prime Minister of Greece’s alternative flight plan to choose to avoid “any type of crash”, by dissmissing landing on the Greek island and choosing another route…”

Instead of submitting a new flight plan to Ankara that would circumvent Rhodes, the PM’s plane eventually flew to Egypt for refueling and then continued over Cyprus, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to reach Iran, the PM’s office today’s statement added.

Mr Tsipras had to land on the Greek island, Paris Karvounopoulos insists . “Prime Minister had to ignore completely the Turkish absurdity and land in Rhodes. As simple as that”.

Recently, Ankara has taken a series of “landmark” challenges that can not be ignored militaire.gr article notes. “Our islands and Aegean regions’ sovereignity is systematically questioned,   the “demilitarization” of the Dodecanese is boldy highlighted, even ,now, the … Prime Empraer! NOTAM which denies everything and especially the “logic” of the Aegean, even on the same moments that Greece is looking to find its heroes dead……. The Athens side remains consistently … silent.”

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Dear ex-soviet #EU countries, you obviously miss your #fences…

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The next impenetrable razor-wire border fence in Europe should be built on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria’s borders with Greece, according  Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the AP wrote.

Orban says it’s necessary because “Greece can’t defend Europe from the south” against the large numbers of refugees pouring in, mainly from Syria and Iraq”.

The plan adds another physical barrier between Greece and countries used as passage for asylum seekers and migrants to Europe’s 26-nation passport-free travel region, the Schengen zone,  that is considered one of the European Union’s most cherished achievements. But it is the countries that are newer members to the European Union, and that are just recently enjoying what it means to  be in a free Western zone, actually what it means to be the West, in modern and older political civilization, and live without borders as a European citizen . They were countries that lived behind razor soviet borders for almost 7 decades. Ex soviet countries.

As reported by AP, it is one of the new mini-blocs emerging lately in Europe due to the continent’s chaotic, inadequate response to its largest migration crisis since World War Two. The Visegrad group (an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) is also becoming a force that threatens the plans of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who wants to resettle newcomers across the continent while also slowing down the influx.

“The plan to build a new ‘European defence line’ along the border of Bulgaria and [FYROM] with Greece is a major foreign policy initiative for the Visegrad Four and an attempt to re-establish itself as a notable political force within the EU,”

said Vit Dostal, an analyst with the Association for International Affairs, a Prague-based think tank.

Representatives of these four countries are holding an informal meeting ahead of the European Union summit on February 18 and 19.

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Germany’s Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that she would press for implementation of the EU’s migration deal with Turkey at the summit this week, saying the alternative of closing borders to limit the flow of refugees to Europe would have dire consequences for the bloc.

“I will fight with all my strength for the EU-Turkey agenda as the right way to tackle this,”

the German Chancellor stressed  Speaking at a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Merkel said the summit was about whether the EU-Turkey pact could successfully tackle the causes of the migration, or

whether the bloc should “give up and instead close the Greek-FYROM-Bulgarian border with all the consequences that would have for Greece, the European Union and the Schengen zone.”

 

On Monday, February 15, the representative of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas had made clear that

the EU’s response to the refugee crisis will be in cooperation with Greece and not against Greece,

invited to comment on the meeting of the “Visegrad four” with governments of FYROM and Bulgaria, to promote the proposal for the closing of borders to Greece.

Shinas emphasized that based on the latest Commission figures, there is significant progress in the registration of refugees and migrants in Greece.

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Greece’s Defense Minister  Panos Kamenos announced on Tuesday that Greece has met its deadlines and commitment to EU  to have the hot spots ready before February 18th,and that the four five hotspots were already functioning .

Spokesperson for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship of European Commission Tove Ernst, also, stressed  at a press conference:

“Any action to the FYROM border will be undertaken in cooperation with the Greek authorities and Frontex”.

Ernst Tove said that an additional EUR 10 million of European aid was given to FYROM, in order to improve the management of migration flows at its borders and in particular for the better systematic controls and better monitoring of the borders and identification and registration of third countries nationals.

She stressed though that this aid is not to finance the construction of any fence,

“the work of the Commission is aimed at the management of the border and not on closing them”.

In regard with the construction of hotspots in the Greek islands, Tove expressed the Commission’s satisfaction with the work in progress .

In Berlin, government spokesman Steffen Zaimpert  reiterated that the main priority for Berlin is to improve the guarding of the European Union’s external borders as a prerequisite for the maintenance of Schengen.

“From the perspective of the German government, it remains imperative to improve the guarding of EU’s external borders. This is the main requirement to put in order and to control and eventually reduce the flow of refugees’,

adding that “Without effective guard of external borders, the freedom of movement within the Schengen area will be jeopardized”

German spokesman Steffen Zaimpert added that “when we talk about a European solution, we mean a solution of the whole of Europe, which (solution) does not bypass any european country nor is it against an individual member state”.

Commenting the article of Sigmar Gabriel, to which the German Vice-Chancellor is against the possibility of the exclusion of Greece from the Schengen, he said: “I understood the text of Sigmar Gabriel as a very strong advocacy for european solutions – for european rather than national solutions. And this is a fundamental belief of the government”.

Strengthening the control on the Bulgarian-Greek and Greek-FYROM borders will not lead to a solution for Europe but will result only in a change of migration routes,

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov also, had said on February 15 in Prague.

Borissov was in the Czech Republic capital as a guest at a meeting of the Visegrad Group – made up of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – at which the migrant crisis in Europe was the key agenda item.

Greek Prime Minister’s Office earlier last week had strongly denounced the Visegrad countries’ blame game .Go to this story

Visit our Aegean Borders Special Page on greek2m

 

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sources: sofiaglobe, Independent Balkan News Agency , AFP, New Europe, balcan eu

 

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NATO sweep in Aegean agreement devoted to the Greek Navy helicopter crash victims, said @PanosKammenos

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NATO intervention in Aegean operations to stop migration flows from Turkey to Greece was agreed in Brussels, while Greece was waking up on a national bereavement day, since a Greek Navy helicopter crashed in the Aegean Sea early morning hours with two crew members found dead and the third missing.

According to the Greek Navy, the helicopter disappeared from the Hellenic Air Force’s radar at 2.45 a.m. on Thursday as it was flying over Kinaros islet, near the island of Amorgos.

Returning extraordinary earlier to Greece from the NATO ministers meeting in Brussels, the Greek Defense Minister  Panos Kammenos  said the NATO agreement is devoted by Greece to the naval victims of the crash, and underlined that from now on, migrant smuggling is coming to its end.

From Brussels, the Greek Defense minister Panos Kammenos had tweeted that the negotiations have been “successful” at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting , and that the Greece’s positions had been accepted

the NATO agreement

It is the first  intervention of NATO in Europe’s migration crisis, with a naval patrol ordered immediately to the eastern Mediterranean to help combat people-smugglers, sources from Brussels said Thursday noon, after the NATO ministers meeting.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said earlier on Thursday said that NATO military authorities have been ordered to draw up plans for how the alliance could help shut down illegal migration and people smuggling across the Aegean Sea. as announced Thursday noon by the US Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, the Associated Press wrote.

NATO ministers “tasked NATO military authorities to provide its advice for options for implementing it,” said Ash Carter.

On Wednesday February 10, Greek Minister of Defense Panos Kammenos had said to the press,  that Greece agrees to the involvement of NATO in Aegean for the refugees flows, but the country’s position would be that

  • Greek and Turkish vessels should have to be restricted to their respective territorial waters.

The Greek Defense Minister stressed also that

  • Any people rescued during these operations must be returned to Turkey.

Kammenos also stressed that

  •  territorial rights should be fully respected in search and rescue missions
  • and that Turkey would be obliged to submit flight plans for any of its aircraft that take part in NATO missions over the Aegean.

FRONTEX to turn back migrants to Turkey

Greece’s defense minister has said to his European counterparts that Greece wants an  agreement with neighboring Turkey that would allow the European Union’s

Frontex border agency to stop and turn back – within Turkish waters – boats carrying migrants to the Greek islands.

Panos Kammenos said since Feb. 8 that he has already made the proposal to his EU colleagues, who “showed great interest,” and that he intended to raise the matter with NATO officials in Brussels at the NATO ministers meeting

He said Greek authorities are in a position to locate smugglers boats as they leave the nearby Turkish coast, as well as alert Frontex and the Turkish coast guard.

Kammenos said this would “stop the great migratory flow to Greece” and stop the deaths of migrants and refugees trying to reach Greece in rickety boats.

 

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Greek Army  in charge of the Migration  Crisis Response

The involvement of the armed forces has been justified as the only viable way of meeting the tight deadline for setting up the hotspots and relocation centres. However, the plan announced by Kammenos goes far beyond merely assisting with construction projects.

Kammenos announced that the operation—the biggest ever undertaken by the Greek Armed Forces in peacetime, wrote the World Socialist Web Site—will be managed by the newly established “Coordinating Organ for Managing Immigration”. This will be headed by Major General Konstantinos Floros,a Special Forces Officer who has served both as a Paratrooper and Navy Seal officer. Kammenos justified Floros’ appointment stating,

“The choice for a Special Forces Officer as a coordinator implies that special circumstances require special people who can make decisions quickly.”

Floros currently heads the National Operations Centre,  located in the Ministry of Defence It is where the Coordinating Organ will be centred. According to Kammenos, civilians participating in the operation will only have access to a special designated area.

The Coordinating Organ will include:

* A transportation department, “which will monitor existing arrangements to transport refugees and migrants from the islands and hotspots to the reception centres”

* A health department headed by army and police doctors

* A catering department made of 10 different catering corps units

* An NGO department, which will coordinate all registered volunteers

While Kammenos was at pains to stress that the Armed Forces’ intervention is only temporary, the plans he announced are essentially a framework for establishing martial law on the pretext of the refugee crisis, Global research wrote.  Greece has come under great criticism from fellow EU member states on the grounds of not taking the necessary measures to grapple with the biggest migration flow the continent has faced since World War II.

 

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NATO IN AEGEAN  Germany’s early wellcome

Since the very first moment of the proposal for NATO involvement was expressed , Germany had welcomed the discussions at NATO. Besides, it was during the meeting of Angela Merkel and Ahmet Davutoglu that Turkey asked for it the German Chancellor.

“It is good that the Turkish government has asked NATO to help for the surveillance of the sea. We are aiming at stopping the business of the smugglers,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

 

Follow 24/7 coverage on Greek, European and Western Borders Control by our special dedicated HomePage 

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3 billion $ paid for refugees by #Greece, which might be out of #Schengen anyway, @PanosKammenos, @imouzalas

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Possible the Out of Schengen scenario, anyway

“Europe might close the Borders to Greece, even after the country’s commitments are fulfilled” ,  Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said in a tv interview on Monday evening, adding that “they don’t hear us in Europe!” , referring to the EU-Greece talks on European and Greece’s external Borders protection.

Commitments will be fulfilled by the deadlines

Earlier on Monday the Greek Defence Minister had reassured that “Greece will fulfill its commitments,” stating that all five “hot spots”for the refugees/migrants entrance screening and  identification will be ready on the Greek islands in less than a week.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos discussed in detail on a press briefing in Athens on Monday the construction work that is underway in old military camps since late January by the Greek Army, and assured that all five hotspots will be ready on February 15, the deadline agreed with the European partners and Angela Merkel .

The cost of supporting the incoming refugees and migrants over the past two years and a half has reached 2.7 billion euros(3.02 billion US dollars) for Greece, according to Panos Kammenos.

Greece requests more help from European partners and neighboring countries to face the huge refugee crisis challenge, as the debt laden country is threatened by the EU with an expulsion from the Schengen passport free travel zone, and while refugees continue to arrive in thousands day to day on the Aegean islands’ shores,  despite bad weather and the cold waters of winter time.

The Greek Defence Minister stressed also that two relocation centers on the mainland will be ready by the deadline, despite protests from local communities. Hundreds have angrily protested on the streets of Kos island, as well as the Piraeus suburb of Keratsini and a district in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where the two relocation centers will be set up.

Kammenos said that the government is open to dialogue, but there is no time for lengthy discussions, he emphasised, as people are dying in the Aegean Sea and survivors need aid with no more delays. According to the government, all the “hot spots” are temporary structures.

Cabinet ministers , who are obliged, by all means on the moment, to act “under emergency” to protect Greece’s Borders, have dismissed the three local communities’ reactions,  as “xenophobic outbreaks” by a minority of locals, while the vast majority of residents of the border islands have shown a total different face, trying to give, all of them, a helping hand .

Indeed, among protesters at Keratsini on Monday were ultra-Right Golden Dawn party MPs and members, but in several cases demonstrators have rejected any affiliation with the party.

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@imouzalas: Real the out-of-Schengen threat

Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas being interviewed by Nikos Xatzinikolaou on Star TV late on Monday, did not rule out possible negative acts on the part of Europe

“They can even close the borders although Greece meets its commitments.”, he said openly

Mouzalas summed up the national policy for the refugees to:

  • the identification centers to be ready and adequately staffed,
  • creating relocation centers for refugees and asylum seekers,
  • and temporary centers.
  • Moreover, Greece is asking a safe corridor for refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and immediate readmission to Turkey of those not seeking asylum or refuse voluntary return.

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Children unaccompanied

Greece’s Alternate Interior Minister, during his interview to Nikos Hatzinikolaou on star tv, also referred to the issue of unaccompanied children saying that “we are lagging significantly behind.”

To address that issue, he said that a committee composed by the ministry, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has been set up.

The Europol police agency had warned on January 31 that young people arriving alone were particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking.

More than 10,000 unaccompanied children registered after arriving in Europe over the past 18 months to two years had disappeared, the EU’s law enforcement agency said.

  • «Children currently account for 36 per cent of those risking the treacherous sea crossing between Greece and Turkey,» the Unicef spokeswoman Sarah Crowe has also said.
  • «Children and women on the move now make up nearly 60 per cent» of those entering from Macedonia, she added.

(The figures mark a significant shift since June, when 73 per cent of migrants were adult males and only one in 10 were under the age of 18.)

 Marie Pierre Poirier, Unicef’s special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, said women and children were even more vulnerable to the dangers of trying to travel to Europe.

 

Speaking to AFP on Monday, UNICEF’s Crowe said European mechanisms for protecting children had not worked.

This «is really a failure of child protection systems across the region», she said.

«Procedures need to be a lot faster and children need to be part of that process so they don’t fall through the cracks and they do not fall prey to smugglers and traffickers.»

Black Market on the islands

During the Press briefing on Monday February 8, Minister Kammenos also denounced “the flourishing of a black market on the islands in recent months.”

“A minority of locals has reportedly exploited the needy refugees, overcharging products and services, as long as the assistance from the state mechanism is insufficient, he said. To the moment, complete and ready, adequately functioning is only one “hot spot”that  is running so far, and that’s on Lesvos island.

A total of 960,000 refugees entered Greece via Turkey on their way to other European countries since early 2015, according to the latest official data.

Find more about the Borders of the West on our full coverage updated Homepage by greek2m.org

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How and Why is the migrant crisis undermining Schengen?

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A permanent return to frontier controls in Europe would cost countries in the Schengen open-borders area about €110 billion over the next decade, the French government’s official think-tank said on Wednesday (3 February).

The Schengen agreement is a centrepiece of European integration. But, under pressure from voters alarmed by an unprecedented influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, several governments have already temporarily reintroduced controls at their borders with fellow European Union states.

A study by France Strategie, a think-tank directly attached to the prime minister’s office, said the drop in cross-border tourism and trade brought on by a permanent end of the free-travel area would cost Europe 0.8 percent of economic output over 10 years.

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The 13 November attacks by Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Paris, which killed 130 people, prompted an urgent rethink of the Schengen Agreement after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium in November 2015There was alarm that killers had so easily slipped into Paris from Belgium, and that some had entered the EU with crowds of migrants via Greece.

 

Germany reimposed controls on its border with Austria, after a record number of migrants travelled to southern Germany from Hungary, via Austria.

The influx of migrants also pushed Austria to restrict road and rail traffic on its border with Hungary.

The migrants entered the EU illegally, without Schengen visas.

Hungary became a hotspot as a gateway to the Schengen zone, so it built a fence on its border with Serbia.

The fence was much-criticised in the EU – but Serbia is outside Schengen, so Hungary argued that it was quite justified.

Hungary later erected fences on its borders with EU members Slovenia (in Schengen) and Croatia (not in Schengen).

Map showing routes being used by migrants trying to reach Austria and Germany - 19 October 2015

Even though FYROM Republic is  referred as Macedonia by the BBC on this map, which is against the national and diplomatic acceptance of Greece, we post this map for being the only one published up to now via web showing the actual Borders Control reality in Schengen and Non Schengen countries of Europe against the migrants route

On 4 January the focus switched to Schengen members Denmark and Sweden.

Denmark stepped up border controls with Germany, hours after Sweden extended identity checks on all travellers to reduce the influx of migrants.

Sweden is now refusing entry to anyone who has no photo identification.

It has slowed traffic across the Oresund road-rail bridge.

More than 160,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden last year – the highest per-capita figure in the EU.

In a December speech, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that free movement under Schengen would be safeguarded and “Schengen is here to stay”.

Schengen is often criticised by nationalists and Eurosceptics, such as the French National Front (FN), Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) and UK Independence Party. They say it is an open door for migrants and criminals.


When can countries reimpose border controls?

Belgian-French police check on border, 14 Nov 15
Belgian and French (yellow vest) police began systematic border checks after the Paris attacks

Under the Schengen rules, signatories may reinstate internal border controls for 10 days, if this has to be done immediately for “public policy or national security” reasons.

If the problem continues, the controls can be maintained for “renewable periods” of up to 20 days and for a maximum of two months.

An EU regulation in 2013 specified that such controls “should remain an exception and should only be effected as a measure of last resort, for a strictly limited scope and period of time”.

The period for temporary border controls is longer in cases where the threat is considered “foreseeable”. The controls can be maintained for renewable periods of up to 30 days, and for a maximum of six months.

But an extension of two years maximum is allowed under Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code, in “exceptional circumstances”.

In the Schengen zone currently six states have border controls in place: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Hungary’s controls affect two non-Schengen states: Croatia and Serbia. Last October it also imposed temporary controls on the border with Schengen member Slovenia.

In 2005 France reimposed border controls after the bomb attacks by Islamist militants in London.

Austria, Portugal and Germany reimposed border controls for some major sporting events, such as the Fifa World Cup.

German police check at Rottal Ost, 14 Sep 15Image copyrightReuters
Image captionGerman police are now routinely checking vehicles entering from Austria

 How are non-EU citizens affected?

Schengen visa - file pic 

The Schengen visa gives non-EU nationals easy access to most of Europe AFP

A Schengen visa is necessary to travel to a Schengen country or within the area. It is a short-stay visa valid for 90 days. It also allows international transit at airports in Schengen countries.

A short-stay visa costs €60 (£44; $68).

But the visa costs €35 for Russians, Ukrainians and citizens of some other countries, under visa facilitation agreements.

The EU has no visa requirement for citizens of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia who have biometric passports. These Balkan nations all hope to join the EU.

Kosovo is excluded from the arrangement.

Non-EU nationals who have a Schengen visa generally do not have ID checks once they are travelling inside the zone. But since the Paris atrocity those checks have become more common.

Since the scrapping of visas for travellers from the Western Balkans there has been a surge in asylum applications from that region.

Most of the asylum claims are submitted in Germany, which already has well-established diaspora communities from the Balkans.

Now the EU aims to establish a common list of “safe countries of origin”, including the Western Balkans and Turkey. It would help speed up the processing of asylum claims, and give a legal basis for sending many  applicants home.

 

sources: euractiv, quarz, express.co/uk

 

 

 

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@tsipras_eu office strongly denounces #Visegrad countries’ #BlameGame”

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“Today, the relocation program in other European countries has just reached the 0.17% of its implementation. The EU – Turkey agreement has not started, and the same happens with the readmission agreements for refugees who do not have right to submit for asylum”, government sources said in Athens Friday evening.

By a  Non- paper release the Greek Prime Minister’s office noted that

“Greece has repeatedly stressed that on this stage of the refugee crisis, only a United Europe by a common policy of solidarity and humanism can manage the problem effectively. The blame game has no practical effect. Success can only be implement by the full commitments of all sides. This is the position that has the support of the majority of the EU member countries  and the European institutions “.

The Non Paper strongly emphasizes “despite the common EU engagement in refugee crisis response, a number of Central European countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic), are trying to devise a different policy on a completely different direction, by the following characteristics:

  • Closing borderS between European countries to refugees in violation of the humanitarian principles and solidarity  which are the signatories to the framework of the European institutions.
  • Continuing unacceptable pressure on Greece to depart from the rules of international law and stop the refugees rescues in the sea area.
  • Lobbying the EU to close the Greece’s borders .
  • Depositing “ideas” unrelated to any notion of humanitarian management of the refugee and unthinkable for the European value framework.

These proposals, the Non Paper continues:

  • Incorporate an unacceptable extreme right xenophobic rhetoric, unprecedented in European politics.
  • They aim to create buzz for domestic political consumption.
  • They distract the common European policy on a hugely important issue.

The government estimates that “European reaction against such political behavior is still not required”but calls for a more decisive answer in this regard stressing that it is currently necessary for Europe to address the issue in the way that has been decided.

“Neither refugee flows can be stifling, nor the refugees can be treated with fences, closed borders and camps.

Decisive implementation of the European decisions and the agreement with Turkey is the only way for a humane and inclusive management of the refugee issue.

Our country is leading the fight to implement a policy similar to the humanitarian face of Europe and prevent the fragmentation of the European area and the far right regression ” concludes the statement of the Prime Minister’s office .

Earlier in Friday, February 5, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras received in his office in Athens visiting French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere.

Greece will honour its commitments regarding the management of the refugee crisis and underlined that everyone must honour their commitments.

Alexis Tsipras said after the meeting and added that Greece was bearing a huge burden, at a time of great economic difficulty,though the highest cost, he said, have been  the lives lost at sea.

“We are talking about numbers when we refer to flow. For us an important number is that of those who have lost their life in the Aegean. We must not believe that this tragedy is something that simply happens that we can do nothing about to make it stop. Our first priority is our duty as human beings, to stop the tragedy in the Aegean,” he said, in statements before the cameras.

 

In statements after the meeting with Tsipras, Cazeneuve said that the goal was to restrict refugees flows “because Europe can’t accept such a large number of refugees in 2016, as that which passed through the EU’s external borders the previous year.

He said that France will contribute 60 police officers to Frontex, who will come to Greece, and also use 18 expert staff specialising in identifying fake documents, to assist Greek authorities.

 

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who was also visiting the Greek PM office had earlier told his country’s media that

Germany will be sending two coast guard boats, and gradually 100 employees, to Greece from March 1 to support government efforts to secure the EU’s external borders

The German Minister who has expressed his wishes to maintain solidarity in Europe has noted that the aim should be to do everything possible in order to maintain the right to free movement in Europe, with the participation of Greece.”

“We must all contribute and those who are under more pressure due to their geographical position, like Greece, deserve the support of Europe,” Maziere has said.

“We all have to do our homework, the European Commission and member-states,” he said, adding that that all parties should “honor agreements and European law,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had told Kathimerini in a written interview.

.

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“We cannot afford #refugeescrisis Response in terms of #geopolitics only, said @tsipras_eu at @SupportSyrians conference

Alexis_Tsipras_-_Donald_Tusk_-_Angela_Merkel_-_Ahmet_Davutoğlu

The heavy burden that the refugee crisis has placed on cash-strapped Greece and especially the Greek islands

underlined Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference in London, where the Greek PM met with top European officials including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, and the UK Prime Minister David Cameron   

Athens insists that refugees be relocated directly to the European Union from Turkey, and not cross through Greece.

Greece is asking for full implementation of the and pushing strenuously for the implementation of a refugee relocation tool that is currently moving at negligible rates.

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Merkel: focus on hotspots

During the meeting of the Greek Prime Minister and Angela Merkel , government sources said that Merkel asked that the Greek hotspots be completed by February 18, in time for the European Council in Brussels.

The government has repeatedly said that it will have implemented its commitments by that date, they noted.

The Greek government has also underlined that, once the Italian prime minister lifts obstacles to financing, there must be immediate implementation of the agreements in the EU-Turkey joint action plan.

In the meeting, which was also attended by Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and European Council President Donald Tusk, Tsipras emphasized the huge efforts being made by Greek authorities to manage the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants and called for a more comprehensive European

Tsipras Cameron

Tsipras –Cameron on refugees issue 

According to government sources, Cameron expressed his full support for Greece and an agreement was reached on setting up

  • a bilateral team with British experts with knowhow in the readmission of Pakistanis, who will soon be coming to Athens.

The UK also offered

  • assistance to the Greek coast guard in the form of personnel and on a technical level, they said.

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Tsipras addressing the conference

Addressing the  ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference, Tsipras urged the international community to adopt a “long-term, strategic approach,” to the still-unfolding Syrian refugee crisis, focused on “effective and humane management of refugee flows.”
“The Syrian crisis has humanitarian consequences that will stay with us for decades. We cannot deal with them by building walls or pushing back people in the sea and risking deaths. We cannot push people from country to country, as if they are someone else’s responsibility,” he said, addressing the donors conference.

“I wonder what would have happened to millions of Syrians if Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon had decided to build walls or if all of Europe had said : ‘Refugees aren’t welcome here.

What happens in the Mediterranean is not our problem,'” he added, pointing out that the Syrian conflict was now in its sixth year “with no end in sight”.

“As the UN Secretary General said, the international community has a heavy responsibility for this crisis.”

We cannot afford to see the consequences of the crisis only in terms of geopolitics and public order,” Tsipras pointed out.

“Greece has experience first-hand the humanitarian consequences of this crisis, and we insist on dealing with this challenge with humanity and on the basis of international and European values. Since July we have faced flows of over 900,000 people, of which around 500,000 were Syrians.

“The cost of managing these flows and the burden on state capacities has been enormous. The coast guard has rescued more than 150,000 migrants, many of our islands have hosted more people daily than their population. And the people of Greece are doing all they can to support Syrian refugees.”

 

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Tsipras for assistance to neighboring Syria countries

Tsipras called for a long-term approach and a “response that focuses on cooperation with and assistance to countries that neighbour Syria, which carry an enormous burden of millions of refugees.”
He called for pledges that ensure the integration of refugees in these countries while stemming migration flows.

  • “We have discussed relevant projects on the basis of the EU-Turkey action plan and we must work harder for this plan to succeed. We must push for education programmes and brave economic initiatives that create employment opportunities in Jordan and Lebanon”
  • “We must work on a robust resettlement programme to Europe and other countries,” he said.”

“At the same time, we need to press and support UN talks for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict that will end all attacks against civilians and confront terrorism.

  • “A political settlement of the Syrian conflict that will create conditions for reconciliation and will return civilians to their homes.”

300.000 UN Pledge

The Greek Prime Minister announced that Greece pledges 300,000 euros to the UN for 2016.
“It is a symbolic sum, ” the Prime Minister said,

“but the daily struggle of the Greek people to support and host refugees is not symbolic it is priceless,” he said.

 

Tsipras  also met with European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

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Iraqi man arrest in #Athens airport with passport stolen by #ISIS

 

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A 37-year old Iraqi who traveled from Istanbul to Athens with one of the false passports that were stolen by fighters of ISIS from Iraq, was arrested in El. Venizelos airport.

The 37-year old Iraqi , who lives in Athens and is married to Greek woman, argued that he received the disputed passport in Athens by mail, having sent only his a photograph of him to his cousin in Iraq, because since he could not go to Iraq himself to renew his passport , due to exit ban restrictions from Greece by which he had been charged in 2008, for human trafficking and the professional set up of criminal organization .
The whole batch of passports were stolen by jihadists from Iraqi citizens in Iraq. The police had received information from the Division of International Police Cooperation for the stolen passports, and as soon as the Iraqi’s passport was spotted, the man was arrested.

The Greek Police had been informed since the summer 2015, that a large number of vacant passports had been stolen by ISIS terrorists in the Iraqi province of Nineveh from the citizens they belonged to, during June, and that Iraqi authorities had canceled the whole batch of these passports in order to secure the entry of ISIS fighters to Europe.
The 37-year old who was arrested when he arrived from Constantinople with the morning flight, was working in an Athens restaurant and is also a co-owner, along with his two brothers, of a furniture manufacturing company based in Kurdistan.

He claim to the Greek that he visited Istanbul for a purchase of timber for his company, and also to meet his mother and one of his six sisters

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Two days earlier, two terrorists carrying long knives and military uniforms arrested in Northern Greece with Swedish  passports in  suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

Since last August , 2015, the presence of ISIS  has been a reality in the islands of Aegean, and has set the Greek Police on Error Alert. In the first days of September, in the city of Mytilene, Lesvos, as Greek to me had exclusively reported at least four ISIS suspects had been arrested. One of them had been referred to have been driving a car, playing ISIS music around the tents of the Syrian refugees in the city downtown. He was identified by an Iraqi refugee due to the symbolism of wolds, and special music tune “related to ISIS Propaganda songs”. The Iraqi refugee had notified the authorities, who spotted the ISIS suspect and arrested him.

The other three have been arrested by the Police, after being recognized by citizens, while they were walking around the waterfront of Mytilene city. The symbols of their blouzes have been recognized by local citizens, and Police was informed. They were arrested by the assistance of National Intelligence Agency.

greece-close-borders-680x350

Despite the vigilance the Greek Police has up to now tried to show for the ISIS entrance to Europe threat, the emergency  response of the whole Western world finds Greece inadequate to secure from the terrorists the external borders and the EU Commission warned that Greece could face border controls with the rest of the passport-free Schengen area if it fails to act within three months.

The European Commission on Tuesday endorsed a damning report into Greece’s border controls that concluded: “Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations and there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities.”

The Commission wants Greece to boost staff numbers at its borders to better register migrants, and to step up checks of new arrivals’ details against Interpol and the Schengen Information System (SIS).

Greece has promised to use its military to oversee its response to the refugee crisis. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos heralded the opening of the Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration, to be headed by a senior military official.

The body will be based in the country’s Ministry of Defense and will monitor the creation of five “hot spots” for the processing of migrants on islands off the country’s mainland, as well as improving transportation of refugees within the country.

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