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#Greece threatened by #Schengen quarantine and #Visa-free loss

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After the EE official warning to Greece for being pushed out of Schengen zone, the US Secretary of State John Kerry is said to have issued warning to Greece among four other European countries to clamp down on the fake passport trade or lose visa-free ESTA travel to America.

John Kerry issued warnings to Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Greece and gaven the five nations a deadline of February 1 to fix a ‘crucial loophole’, while he is said be most worried about Greece and Italy, the dailymail writes today.

Homeland Security’s Jen Johnson will report their progress to President Obama next week.

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The US warnings come some hours after the EU governments warning to Greece that there would need to be unprecedented action against Greece if it failed to start playing by the Schengen rules.

A Wednesday’s warning from the commission, according to which Athens would be given three months to take “remedial action” to safeguard its place in the Schengen system,  confirmed that.

The Germans, as well as several other EU countries taking in large numbers of migrants, have long been furious with the Greeks for allegedly simply waving the new arrivals through without registration and ID checks and setting them on the Balkan route towards the Central and North European countries,mainly Germany ad Austria .

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The Financial Times, Tuesday January 26 2016

In recent days, Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has called for Greece to be walled off from the rest of Europe – or at least from Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the next step along the migration trail towards Germany.

Orbán wants the EU to expand an existing fence around the Greek border town of Idomeni along the entire length of the Greece-FYROM border, just as Hungary walled off its own border in September.

 

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What Greece is been accused of

“There is no effective identification and registration of irregular migrants,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, a commission vice-president.

“Fingerprints are not being entered systematically into the system, travel documents are not being systematically checked for authenticity or against crucial security databases.”

Dombrovskis said that a secret EU mission to Greece in November had concluded that Athens was avoiding the Schengen rules on several fronts.

On the same moment, US concerns were raised to peak recently, after the passport of ‘Ahmad Almohammad’ was found at the Paris Stade de France terror attack.

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Finger print analysis of the bomber’s remains revealed the man, who had falsely declared himself to be a Syrian named Ahmad Almohammad, 25, had entered Greece as a refugee on October 3. He was among 198 migrants who landed on the island of Leros after crossing the Aegean from Turkey on a raft. He was processed as a refugee by the Greek authorities who interview more than 1,000 migrants and refugees a day to establish their real identities and nationalities.

the EU Warning in draft

The warning from the EU commission came in the form of a draft report on Greece’s performance, but has to be endorsed by a qualified majority of EU governments. The commission would then give Athens three months to take “remedial action” to safeguard its place in the Schengen system.

At the same time EU governments, with the commission’s support, are acting to increase border controls at Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border with northern Greece, which would end up to many thousands of refugees being kettled in Greece.

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 Athens’ answer

“The solution passes through Turkey, and also through the better cooperation of European Partners on the epimerization of the burden”,

said Alexis Tsipras on Thursday from Israel where he is for official visit .

Athens responded since the first moments robustly to the EU criticism, claiming that the draft evaluation report had been conducted at a time when the situation on the ground was different to the one prevailing two and a half months later.

The Greek foreign ministry released statistics on Wednesday showing that 90% of the new arrivals last year were from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, most of whom would routinely qualify for refugee status, but on the contrary, the commission presented data this week that 60% of those entering the EU currently were “economic migrants” who were not fleeing war and not in need of protection and should be deported, wrote the Irish Times .

Greece straightly  blamed Turkey’s failure to honour the deal it struck with the EU in November.

the Europe’s No Help

Greek Ministers have emphatically and angrily noted to their European counterparts that

Europe  has shortchanged Greece by providing smaller-than-promised numbers of everything, from cots and fingerprinting machines to border guards. “

as  Ioannis Mouzalas  said on Monday Jan 25 to the international and Greek press after the EU meeting Amsterdam

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Frans Timmermans First Vice-President of the European Commission, January 13, 2016

“Since May Greece has persistently been asking for technical, technological and staffing help, and what it has received from Europe is far less than what was asked for,” Greek Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis had openly warned, since December 5 2015, talking to the  told The Associated Press in an interview.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, last week,  during his meeting with his German counterpart Steinmeier said that Frontex should deploy about 100 boats in the narrow stretch of water separating Greece from Turkey, the main launching pad for 850,000 refugees and migrants who reached Greece’s shores last year.

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Diplomacy doubts the wall solution

A supporter of Greece’s proposal

Gerald Knaus, a former diplomat and the chairman of the European Stability Initiative, an influential European think tank said to the Guardian:

“In the end, people will still get through. Anyone already in Greece will not turn back to Turkey.”

It is impossible, Knaus points out, to stop people reaching the Greek islands from Turkey. Once in Greece, it will also be hard to contain them – and even if it were possible, Greece does not have the resources to care for them.

The only way out is to persuade Turkey to take back asylum seekers who reach Greece by boat, and as a quid pro quo, for Germany to formally resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees directly from Turkey. This would not prevent refugees from reaching Europe. But it would allow the continent to manage their arrivals better, decide who comes and when, and know who they are before they arrive.

“I’m convinced that a lot of people just don’t understand the basic issues,” Knaus said. “Whatever they say, you can’t close the Aegean border.”

TRANSIT 4 HOPE

 

 

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Refugees, FYROM and the pipeline, the topics of the meeting of @PrimeministerGR @atsipras with the U.S. @StateDept Secretary @JohnKerry

During the meeting of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the with the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the main issues that were discussed were the negotiation of Greece within the eurozone during the recent months and the need for debt restructuring, but also, the issue of refugee flows, the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue, as well as the developments in Ukraine and Syria, and also the energy issues, according to the Greek PM’s office press announcement released on Thursday noon , October 1.

The meeting took place in Washington, by the presence of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias

US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the strategic importance of the TAP pipeline and IGB in upgrading Greece’s role as an energy hub.

Furthermore, the US Foreign Minister expressed the US intention to support the resolution of the name issue of Skopje and the Cyprus problem.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras undelined the need of the USA support for the upgrade of the UN mechanism for the resettlement of refugees, and also for the intensification of contacts with Turkey in order to manage the refugee issue.

He also stressed the need of US contacts with Turkey for a viable solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN resolutions.

Alexis Tsipras underlined to the US Foreign Minister the intention of the Greek government to resolve the name issue with a compound name with a geographical limitation for use against all, and the need of such a corresponding intention to be shown on the part of FYROM.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras did not attend the summit meeting held at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday September 29, given that FYROM was listed as the “Republic of Macedonia” rather than the provisional name recognized by the United Nations, i.e. “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

For more on the Greek Prime Minister’s trip to the USA, visist our special Page on Greek to me, #TsiprasInAmerica

@PrimeministerGR trip to the USA

Visist also our Special updated Home Page on the refugees influx, #GreeceTransit4Hope

Greece Transit for Hope, the Gate2West wide open, Aegean islands, Greece

This is Greek to me !

Greece at a glance,

Stay with us , 24/7

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Greek-American “Translation Affairs” : When missing words make the relations…

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Annual Parade NYC Greek Independence Day

Greek -American relations have been recently through some tough moments concerning the comprehension of what, finally, the “real” terms of terrorism protection in Greece, and the western world, might be .
After the extensive interview, the Greek Prime Minister gave on Monday 27 to enikos tv show of journalist  Nikos Hatzinikolaou , the US Ambassador David Pearce appeared “angry” according to the enikos.gr headlines, the day after the interview
US ambassador angry response to Tsipras’ interview in enikos.gr
 
Alexis Tsipras reference to the Greek terrorist Savvas Xiros during his interview at enikos.gr and journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou has caused the intervention of US Ambassador in Athens David Pearce.
US Ambassador David Pierce, had strongly earlier expressed, Monday April 20, 2015, his deep concern over the legislation coming the same day to a final vote in the Greek parliament, which “could include cases of convicted terrorists”, as he had said, referring to the law abolishing high security prisons and the provision which would allow convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros to serve the rest of his multiple life sentence from his home.
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US Ambassador to Greece David Pearce with Alexis Tsipras , Maximos Mansion 2015

U.S. Ambassador David Pearce had said by a statement, -one week before the interview of the Prime Minister-, on Monday April 20,  that
allowing Savvas Xiros, to leave prison would be regarded by the U.S. as “a profoundly unfriendly act”
and that the new Greek law is “inconsistent” with the good partnership between the two NATO allies.
While prison reform and improving humanitarian conditions are important, the US Ambassador had underlined,
“the issue is that convicted terrorists and murderers … should serve their full sentences in prison,”

David Pearce had stated, describing possibilities of letting the terrorist the chance to “activate contacts”  that potentially could threaten threaten the public safety.

No terrorist will be released,  assured John Kerry, some hours later,  Greek Foreign Minister in DC

“The new law in Greece about the prisoners will not let any terrorists become free.”

They will be “placed under house arrest, under the conditions provided by the law” Kotzias noted, during the meeting with  John Kerry

Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias meeting John Kerry, Washington DC , April 20, 2015

Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias meeting John Kerry, Washington DC , April 20, 2015

Indeed, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, reassuring his Minister’s of Foreign Affairs statements in Washington, emphasised on his interview to Nikos Hatzinikolaou that terrorist Savvas Xiros, due to the 90% dissability, if included in the law to serve his sentence at home he would be guarded and would be monitored by the bracelet.

But the detail  “guarded” was never reported,  by the media covering the interview neither has been included on the transcript of the interview that was posted the day after.

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Alexis Tsipras at Enikos interview to Nikos Hatzinikolaou, star channel, April 27, 2015

Tsipras on his interview repeatedly underined  that the “Greek Prisons are out of control”,  emphasising that  the Greek government’s new prison law is determined by the fact that there are 11 decisions of the European court of Human Rights concerning prison conditions. Because in lots of cases, the legislation system itself has condemned to death prisoners that have no death penalty, the reform of the new govt law concerns prisoners’ cases of 80%+ disability allowing them to serve the remainder of sentences at home, by wearing electronic tagging devices at least.

He also declared his thesis pro the repentance statement of such prisoners , something that terrorist Savvas Xiros has repeatedly denied since long time.

Alexis Tsipras, Maximos Mansion 2015

Alexis Tsipras, Maximos Mansion 2015

As a follow up of the Prime Minister’s interview the day after, it had been translated by voice over by a translator on Youtube, on a video where Alexis Tsipras, by the voice of the translator, appeared, disastrously accidentally, to call terrorist Savvas Xiros  “a gentleman” .This was followed up by writen the phrase  “gentleman …” on the transcript that followed  posted on the web, which unfortunately made the round of the international media.

A. TSIPRAS: Mister Chatzinikolaou, as I read from the press , ( Xiros) himself that refuses to go out wearing this ankle monitor. He has refused it, so it is not true.

is word-by-word the translation

A. TSIPRAS: Mister Chatzinikolaou, as I read from the press , that this gentleman refuses to go out wearing this ankle monitor. He has refused it, so it is not true.

The day after the interview Peter Spiegel, the Financial Times journalist, twitted, the day after, the translated part of the interview, by the lead, Tsipras  defending law denounced by US ambassador , that could free the  November17 terrorist .

This tweet was sent from Peter Spiegel to David Pearce, and the Ambassador’s response was immediate

Apr 28


@SpiegelPeter@atsipras Xiros should not set foot out of prison before his sentences are served 11:46 PM – 28 Apr 2015

US ambassador angry response to Tsipras’ interview in enikos.gr – VIDEO

Pearce replying to a tweet by Financial Times journalist Peter Spiegel, who uploaded the relevant video, said that ‘Xiros should not set foot out of prison before his sentences are served’.

Pearce replying to a tweet by Financial Times journalist Peter Spiegel, who uploaded the relevant video, said that ‘Xiros should not set foot out of prison before his sentences are served’.

On the tiny edge that Greece is finding itself during these moments by the overt unfriendly stance of Greece’s lenders towards the country, noone, from the Greeks at least, would desire to stir, the country’s foreign relationships, especially with Greece’s major ally.
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But it is Greece’s missluck, on these critical hours, the diplomatique press experience not to have been existed till now by the major awareness needed for the sensitivity of a “word-by-word” hype of making international headlines by Greece, that is routinely happening since the start of 2015.
Still, by missing words and missunderstandings ,damage is done, additionally to the  US Ambassador’s primer irritated reaction.
In between the first statements of David Pearce and his tweet concerning the PM’s interview, the Ambassador  had visited the Maximos Mansion (where the PM’s office is) for a meeting with the Greek governmenet’s Minister of State, Nikos Pappas.
The Ambassador  had been extraordinary invited after his first statements on April 20,- by which he was  expressing  the US “frustration” for the possibility the convicted terrorist to be let free,- as a good-will diplomatic “response” by the Greek govt side “to defuse tension caused on the two countries’ relations” as it was announced.
An undouptedly “accute” tension, expressed unprecedently for what is expressed till now, by the Greek-American longterm friendship on Diplomatic Affairs .
“Both sides expressed their commitment to the two countries’ multi-level cooperation”
said the governement’s official statement by the Maximos Mansion, after the visit.
 Alexis Tsipras on his interview that followed stated , when asked by N.Hatzinikolaou,
“The friction, the intense disagreement [with the U.S.] which took place,  has not spoiled the two countries’ relationships, and has not influenced negatively  the negotiations “
 “Personally, and also on what it may concern our government,” Alexis Tsipras had added “we  are twice or thrice more sensitive (against terrorism), not by definition, but by necessity, because crimes have been committed in the name of left-wing ideals. We are all the more anxious, terrorism actions NOT to be called revolutionary; these are not revolutionary actions, they are actions of exerting power. I wanted to make that clear.
Alexis Tsipras, Maximos Mansion 2015

Alexis Tsipras, Maximos Mansion 2015

Ironicaly, where the Greek PM seats today, has been the seat of the US Ambassador….

…after the German Occupation times. It was just after the war, and actually, the American Ambassador in Athens transcended the German Admiral of the Aegean Sea who was using the mansion as his residence during the German Occupation. After the war the building was shortly used as the seat of the U.S. Ambassador in Athens. In 1952 Dimitrios Maximos sold the mansion to the Greek State at a favorable price. Consequently the building fell to misuse until 1982, when it was decided by the government to renovate it and use it as the seat of the Prime Minister.

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Angela Merkel hosted in Maximos Mansion by Antonis Samaras

Executive Order, also issued by the Depatment of State, on April 21,  for November17  terrorists Christodoulos Xiros and Nikos Maziotis

Terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, Savvas Xiros brother was multiply times given permissions for some days to leave prison under Samaras’ government for quite long time, which helped him to easily escape for a whole year, between January 2014 to January 2015, by   simply by failing to report to authorities while visiting his family during a nine-day leave from prison

By a Media Note released by the Departement of State, on April 21 2015, Greece was informed that two of the Greek terrorists who have been active during the last years in the country are designated under Executive Order of the United States. In the same List where Christodoulos Xiros and Miaziotis are targeted had been Osama Bin Landen and the most Wanted terrorists for the USA.

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the Department of State
Washington, DC
April 21, 2015
The U.S. Department of State has designated Christodoulos Xiros and Nikolaos Maziotis under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. As a result of these designations, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Xiros and Maziotis have any interest is blocked and any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Xiros and Maziotis, or to their benefit.
Christodoulos Xiros was one of the chief assassins of 17 November, until his arrest in 2002. In January 2014, Xiros was serving multiple life terms at the Korydallos Prison near Athens, Greece, when he disappeared while on furlough from the prison, after being granted temporary leave to visit his family in northern Greece. 17 November was active beginning in the 1970s through the early 2000s, claiming attacks against Greek politicians and businessmen, as well as Western interests. After his escape, he publicized a manifesto focusing on his discontent with the Greek government. Xiros was re-arrested by Greek police in January 2015 while planning to carry out armed assaults in Greece, possibly with the intent to free other prisoners. At the time of his arrest, Xiros was likely coordinating with members of Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, a group designated by the State Department under E.O. 13224 in 2011.
Nikolaos Maziotis is the leader of the Greek terrorist organization, Revolutionary Struggle. He was arrested with six other alleged members of Revolutionary Struggle in 2010, but went missing in the middle of his trial. In April 2014, under the leadership of Maziotis, Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for a bomb blast in central Athens outside the branch offices of the Greek central bank. On July 16, 2014, Maziotis was re-arrested by Greek police after a shootout in Athens’ central tourist district, which left four people wounded. Revolutionary Struggle was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State on May 18, 2009 and is most well-known for a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2007.

The Department of State took this action in consultation with the Departments of Justice and the Treasury. We will continue to take such actions against terrorists and terrorist groups in Greece and elsewhere.

Christodoulos Xiros and Nikos Maziotis , designated by the US Departmeent of State

Christodoulos Xiros and Nikos Maziotis , designated by the US Departmeent of State

On April 24, John Brady Kiesling,  Former diplomat in in the U.S. Foreign Service, wrote on his article on Huffington Post :

More than half the known members of 17N are out of jail already, and all of them are now docile good citizens. Xiros’s current obsessions, at least his public ones, are not revolutionary. Sending home a mostly blind, somewhat deaf, partly mangled, and mystically addled icon painter will not encourage more terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.

Yianis Varoufakis in the White House on Greek Independence Day, April 2015

Yianis Varoufakis in the White House on Greek Independence Day, April 2015