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We are Hostages of the #EU-#Turkey deal says Mayor of #Lesvos asking for changes in agreement

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No one told the residents of the North Aegean islands, nor the rest of the Greeks, not even the refugees and migrants that apply for asylum, that they are strictly obliged to stay in this island because the agreement restricts any movement of the incomers further than the natural boundaries of the island set by the sea

But how many are the refugees in Lesvos ? How many the migrants? Are they segregated  ?

Not at all as it seems

Go to our story on greek2m.org  

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Clouds in #GreekGovt-#UNHCR @Refugees cooperation in #refugeecrisis response

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In a meeting held on Thursday September 22  by the EKEPY, the National Operation  Center of Health  for the response refugees accommodation in Lesvos after the fires, governmental authorities announced that the fires in the hotspot of Lesvos were set up…. Go to greek2m.org article 

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Urgency for Actions, says the @UNHCR, while #EU barters humans to #TurkishBlackmail

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URGENT! Situation escalates warns the UNHCR

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.

 

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Emergency  Actions required

Among the most urgent of these actions when it comes to Greece is the need for

  • better contingency planning,
  • with increased accommodation capacity
  • and other support.

“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.

registration and asylum

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.

 safe pathways

In the overall management of the situation will also help, the UNHR has said,

  • Increased regular pathways for admission of refugees from countries neighbouring Syria
  • More resettlement and humanitarian admission,
  • family reunification,
  • private sponsorship, and
  • humanitarian and refugee student and work visas

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.

relocation in question

” 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.

Not a “Safe country ” is Turkey …

 

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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.

the cynical ‘migrant swap’

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.’

Karim Lahidji, FIDH president

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.’’

Geneviève Jacques, FIDH chargée de mission on migrants’ rights
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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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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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@SusanSarandon in #Lesvos for #RefugeeSupport 

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Although Susan Sarandon has not made public, nor has she announced any volunteer activity on the island of Lesvos, where she arrived on December 17th, but according to reports of the local media, she is accompanied by a tv crew, and came on behalf of UNICEF, of which she serves as a Good Will Ambassador

Even though she just announced  by a single tweet -and only- that she was on her way to Lesvos, she was spotted in a Facebook photo with Apostolis Paraskevopoulos, a well-known volunteer on the island who is coordinating a massive effort with other volunteers, in the village of Skala Sikamnias, where thousands of refugees pass daily.

 

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Susan Sarandon ‏@SusanSarandon Dec 16 “On my way to Lesbos”

 

Find that on our Lesvos4Capital greek2m Homepage 

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@tsipras_eu visiting Turkey, where also #G20 meeting on #Migration is being planned

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to visit Ankara on November 17 for talks that are expected to focus on the refugee crisis, as is already announced.

The decision for the visit came amid growing pressure on Greece to cooperate with neighboring Turkey. AlexisTsipras will conduct talks representing the EU, as Martin Schulz stated from Lesbos during his recent visit with the Greek Prime Minister, according to the local press reports. Turkey is the key transit country, Tsipras has repeatedly underlined, for refugees and migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

G20 request

Meanwhile, the European Union wants leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies to also help tackle a growing migration crisis when they meet in Turkey this month to discuss tax cooperation, trade and climate change.

EU Chairman Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker will push at the November 15-16 meeting for a global response to the challenge faced by Europe from the influx, Reuters reported.

In a letter by the two men to other EU leaders, they wrote: “Meeting in Turkey in the midst of a refugee crisis due to conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, the G20 must rise to the challenge and lead a coordinated and innovative response to the crisis that recognises its global nature and economic consequences and promotes greater international solidarity in protecting refugees.”

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Registration of refugees on the Turkish shores insists Greek govt

”Greece isn’t the point of entry” into the EU for refugees from Syria, the ”gate is Turkey, our neighbor”, Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras has stated on Wednesday Novembber 4th, at the ceremony for the reallocation of 30 refugees from Greece attended by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, EU Commissioner for migration and home affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn (rotating president of the EU Council)..

”The objective is to go from reallocations to resettlements”.

”The least dangerous solution” for refugees and ”the most effective” provides for a cooperation between the EU and Turkey ”so that the whole process of identification and reallocation begins along the Turkish coasts”.

The need to reach an agreement with Turkey that enables the creation of registration and identification points in the country for the resettlement of refugees in the European Union has been the definite thesis of Greece on the EU borders contro; issue, since the very first moment that the joint poatrols in Aegean scenario had been expressed.
“What happens in the Aegean is a crime that must be stopped,” the prime minister reiterated talking from Lesbos . “What is required is to come to an agreement with Turkey so as to reduce the flows by combating traffickers,” he added.

Go to our fully updated Hompage, #Empathy@Aegean

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@tsipras_eu to Merkel: #Refugees screening should be done in Turkey, #Greece says no 2plans for joint #SeaPatrols 

the port of Lesbos rom the boat, by the Stauue of Liberty standing in the middle of the hundredts of tents of refugees staying there waiting for their ticket to Europe

the port of Lesbos from the boat, by the Statue of Liberty standing in the back and all around the hundreds of tents of refugees settled there waiting for their ticket to Europe

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coming closer to the port of destiny…

stepping out in the port of Mytiline that's what you see

stepping out in the port of Mytilini that’s what you see

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

Go to our main article by Greek to me !,

Joint Patrols in Aegean, -by EU blessings-, the trap of Turkey’s humanitarian guise

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Visit our special News section of Greek to me ! for Greece’s Armageddon Cross Roads on Greek to me Newsblog 

Greek to me ! Newsblog

find the news update on the eurobserver, as of Wednesday October14, 2015  Greece says no to plan for sea patrols with Turkey

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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

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