There were voices saying that Europe should build fences and walls, said the Greek PM in his statements…
There were voices saying that Europe should build fences and walls, said the Greek PM in his statements…
With increasing border restrictions across the Balkans, the UNHCR agency has early warned for the escalation of the situation into a humanitarian crisis similar to that on the Greek islands last autumn, and especially Lesvos .
Solving Europe’s refugees and migrants’ situation and preventing a new crisis in Greece (which has meanwhile occured, thoug, just in a few hours, as soon as borders closed, after the 7th of March), requires a number of clear actions, Adrian Edwards,UNHCR spokesperson told a press briefing in Geneva.
Among the most urgent of these actions when it comes to Greece is the need for
“The authorities are trying to respond now to prevent a further deterioration of conditions throughout Greece.
But, more resources and better coordination are critical for averting wider suffering and chaos,” Edwards stressed.
UNHCR is continuing to support the response operation and has set up field offices in eight locations and deployed additional staff including mobile emergency teams who quickly move to wherever the changing situation demands.
UNHCR is urging the Greek authorities with the support of the European Asylum Support Office and EU Member States to strongly reinforce its capacity to register and process asylum seekers through the national asylum procedure, as well as through the European relocation scheme.
In the overall management of the situation will also help, the UNHR has said,
UNHCR will convene an important conference on this topic in Geneva on 30 March and hopes for concrete offers in this regard.
All the above measures serve to reduce demand for people smuggling, onward movements, and dangerous boat journeys. They thus save lives.
UNHCR spokesman underlined.
” It should concern everyone that despite commitments to relocate 66,400 refugees from Greece, states have so far only pledged 1,539 spaces, and only 325 actual relocations have occurred,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards underlined.
The FIDH Worldwide Movement for Human Rights strongly condemned by an official Organization Press Release, the EU States’ and Governments’ decesion of March 7, along with the Trurkish Government, and called on the EU and its member States to stop trying to push migrants away at all costs, stop bartering migrants as goods, but create instead legal and safe channels including through increasing their unconditional resettlement capacities.
With the help of NATO, the EU will ‘return all new irregular migrants’ crossing the Aegean Sea to Turkey. Given that migrants reaching Europe are mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis in need of international protection, FIDH is worried that these people will not have access to a fair and effective asylum process
According to the plan, the EU would resettle a Syrian from Turkey for every Syrian returned to Turkey
The mere idea that the EU could condition resettlement of Syrians on Turkish willingness to readmit other Syrians is repulsive., codemns FIDH President, Karim Lahidji
‘The announced ‘migrant swap’ shows once again the EU complete lack of consideration for migrants’ dignity and rights. Do we have to remind the EU and Turkish leaders that they are not bartering goods but dealing with human beings, some of them in urgent need of protection? The mere idea that the EU could condition resettlement of Syrians on Turkish willingness to readmit other Syrians is repulsive.’
According to EU Heads of State and Government, for this plan to be ‘legal’, Europe must grant a ‘safe country’ status to Turkey.
‘Under no circumstances can Turkey be considered a ‘safe country’ for migrants. The EU’s decision to turn a blind eye to the deteriorating human rights situation and the lack of an adequate asylum system does not mean it is a safe country. Refugees may be at risk of deportation, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. This decision only sadly shows that in order to outsource its responsibilities, the EU is caving in to Turkish blackmail using migrants as bargaining chips.’’
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.
The draft was leaked by Satewatch, the European civil liberties watchdog.These are some points :
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.
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 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.”
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”.
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
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.”
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.
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”.
“[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.”
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.”
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.
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”
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.
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.
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
sources: sofiaglobe, Independent Balkan News Agency , AFP, New Europe, balcan eu
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Alexis Tsipras said officially NO to Angela Merkel talking on the phone on Wednesday October 14, hours before the European Council for Migration, and while Turkey had gladly said Yes to joint patrols of Greek and Turkish Naval and Coastguard Patrols in the Aegean.
Instead of that the Greek Prime Minister insisted to ask the identification screening procedure of migrants and refugees to be held on the Turkish coast, before the migrants make the journey of life-or-death that has lead to hundreds of drownings in the Aegean waters, and which make them pay to smugglers more than 2000 euros each.
This is a proposal officially first made by the official Lesbos’ Municipality Plan for the refugees crisis Response, by the Mayor of the island Spyros Galenos, who had already made diplomatic contacts with his counterparts in Turkey, and had found them positive so far, as the official document reports .
Jean Claude Junker had also officially received the proposal early enough, by late September, but had transposed the responsibility of assessing it as a whole to the EU Commissioner of Migration, the Greek Dimitris Avramopoulos, who has not answered so far and plans to visit Lesbos after the EU Council on October 15, as is announced.
But the mayor of Lesbos official presented the proposal to the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and the Austrian Chancellor Faymann on their visit to the island on October 6, and had analysed all the steps made so far, to make possible the solution of the identification procedures to be held on the Turkish coast . And this is what Alexis Tsipras openly and bravely chose to support , even though Jean Claude Junker openly asked the Greek part to say YES to joint patrols After the NO of the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on public statements, while the scenario of joint patrols was still not formally presented to the Greek government, the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras openly repeated the NO to Angela Merkel , and immediately answered to her arguments for better safeguarding EU’s external borders by proposing the screening and identification procedures to be held on Turkish coast. What will be done, remains to be seen not Today is the critical meeting
Go to our Greek to me ! story on full details on this story , we have made full awareness early enough, based on Paris Karvounopoulos, the Defense reporter information about the common German and Turkish
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find the news update on the eurobserver, as of Wednesday October14, 2015 Greece says no to plan for sea patrols with Turkey
Euro zone countries tried in vain to stop the IMF publishing a gloomy analysis of Greece’s debt burden which the leftist government says vindicates its call to voters to reject bailout terms, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday to Reuters, as its exclusive report wrote
The Europeans were also concerned, the Reuters exclusive artcle further reveals, that
the report could distract attention from a view they share with the IMF that the Tsipras government, in the five months since it was elected, has wrecked a fragile economy that was just starting to recover.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” an IMF source involved in the debate over publication said. “We are not living in an ivory tower here. But the EU has to understand that not everything can be decided based on their own imperatives.”
The board had considered all arguments, including the risk that the document would be politicized, but the prevailing view was that
all the evidence and figures should be laid out transparently before the referendum.
“Facts are stubborn. You can’t hide the facts because they may be exploited,” the IMF source said.
The document released in Washington on Thursday said Greece’s public finances will not be sustainable without substantial debt relief, possibly including write-offs by European partners of loans guaranteed by taxpayers.
It also said Greece will need at least 50 billion euros in additional aid over the next three years to keep itself afloat.
Publication of the draft Debt Sustainability Analysis laid bare a dispute between Brussels and the Washington-based global lender that has been simmering behind closed doors for months.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cited the report in a televised appeal to voters on Friday to say ‘No’ to the proposed austerity terms, which have anyway expired since talks broke down and Athens defaulted on an IMF loan this week.
It was not clear whether an arcane IMF document would influence a cliffhanger poll in which Greece’s future in the euro zone is at stake with banks closed, cash withdrawals rationed and commerce seizing up.
“Yesterday an event of major political importance happened,” Tsipras said. “The IMF published a report on Greece’s economy which is a great vindication for the Greek government as it confirms the obvious – that Greek debt is not sustainable.”
At a meeting on the International Monetary Fund’s board on Wednesday, European members questioned the timing of the report which IMF management proposed at short notice releasing three days before Sunday’s crucial referendum that may determine the country’s future in the euro zone, the sources said.
There was no vote but the Europeans were heavily outnumbered and the United States, the strongest voice in the IMF, was in favor of publication, the sources said.
In Brussels, the way the IMF communicated the findings was seen as confusing, misleading and politically unhelpful.
The European Commission had produced its own debt sustainability analysis, based partially on IMF data, which is less pessimistic in its scenarios and is one of the documents mentioned on the Greek referendum ballot paper.
Diplomats said the IMF’s publication of the study was a way of making clear it would only be part of any future loan pact with Greece if the Europeans included debt relief in the mix.
Germany and its north European allies have said the IMF’s presence is indispensable both to win parliamentary backing for aid for any euro zone partner, and to keep the European institutions honest. Berlin suspects the European Commission of being too soft on Greek efforts to wriggle out of reforms of pensions, taxation, public sector wages and labor law.
The European Central Bank, ( which has made Banks close in Greece as soon as the referendum was announced , we note) the third partner in what used to be called the “troika” of bailout enforcers, is also keen to keep the IMF involved, the Reuters article writes.
ST. PETERSBURG: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday evening in St. Petersburg but the question of Russian financial aid for Greece was not discussed, Putin’s spokesman said, the Associated Press wrote
Tsipras had traveled to Russia as his country struggles to reach a deal with its creditors for new loans it needs to avoid defaulting on debt payments at the end of the month. Without the bailout, Greece could be headed for bankruptcy or an exit from the 19-nation eurozone.
Tsipras’ visit gave rise to speculation that the Greeks may be seeking Russian loans – and ahead of the talks, Putin’s spokesman said Russia would consider a loan if the Greeks asked for one.
“We would do this because they are our partners and this is a normal practice between countries who are partners,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Associated Press.
But when Tsipras met with Putin, the possibility of a loan “wasn’t discussed,” Peskov told journalists. Instead, they spoke about “the necessity of developing investment cooperation.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, among the many speakers at a Russian economic summit on Friday, spoke about ways to boost international trade, bolster global economic growth and the strengthening of the BRICS bloc.The BRICS capitals share key economic interests and oppose what they claim to be a US-dominated world order.
Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras noted that “economic centers of the world are shifting”.
“The economic center of the planet has shifted. There are new emerging forces that are playing a more important role geopolitically and economically. International relations are more and more characterized by multi-polarity,” said Tsipras.
“Enhanced cooperation among the BRICS countries is another manifestation of the new world order at the moment,” he added.
“We are in the middle of a storm, but we are people of the sea and we are not afraid of sailing in open seas and reaching safe ports,”
Tsipras’s visit has given rise to speculation that the Greeks may be seeking Russian loans. He meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Friday.
“We will support any decision [on the Greek debt crisis] that is proposed by Greece and our European partners,” Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said in an interview on RT television, the Tass news agency reported.
“The most important things for us are investment projects and trade with Greece. If financial support is needed, we will consider this question,” he said.
Dvorkovich spoke after Russia and Greece signed a deal Friday to build an extension of a prospective gas pipeline that would carry Russian gas to Europe through Turkey.
Russia promised Greece hundreds of millions of dollars in transit payments yearly if it agreed to build the pipeline. Construction of the pipeline is expected to start next year and be completed in 2019.
Putin’s spokesman said it was too early to comment on possible loans.
“To consider such a question, you first have to hear some kind of proposals or initiatives from our Greek partners,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “To discuss this abstractly, without having any appeals or proposals, would be shortsighted”
Ahead of the Friday meeting, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said he “cannot comment on specific decisions” when asked if Moscow would rescue Athens.
This puts German Chancellor Angela Merkel into a difficult spot. Her own conservative party, the German people, and bankers in Frankfurt have all made clear they don’t want to continue to pay for Greece if Athens doesn’t heed calls to reform. But she’s under pressure from Washington to maintain an alliance that won’t upset the apple cart when it comes to sanctions.
“She doesn’t love the idea that Putin would be presented with a gift if Greece is alienated from Western Europe,” Mallaby said
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