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

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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

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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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