Aleksandr Dugin, the chief ideologist of the Kremlin-backed “Eurasian” doctrine has been denied entry into the European Union after arriving at the Greek airport of Thessaloniki.
Dugin is not on the EU sanctions list, but he was put last year on the US black list because of his affiliation with an ultranationalist group that Washington says has “actively recruited individuals with military and combat experience to fight on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.”
On May 17, Greek border guards refused to let Dugin enter the country after he arrived in Thessaloniki.
Dugin said he was stopped from entering the EU at the request of Hungarian authorities. He told the conservative, religious-themed TV channel Tsargrad, where he serves as editor in chief, that he had been “deported” from Greece.
Dugin has been courting both left-wing and extreme right-wing political groups in Hungary, Greece, and Romania, where he is popular among ultra-nationalists. He said he had wanted to visit Mount Athos in anticipation of Vladimir Putin’s planned visit together with the Russian patriarch Kirill.
Dugin said his “deportation” was “weird”, given that he had traveled freely in the EU in recent months.
Beginning of May, a group of Russian journalists were denied entry in Estonia, where the authorities annulled their Schengen visas.
“Europe might close the Borders to Greece, even after the country’s commitments are fulfilled” , Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said in a tv interview on Monday evening, adding that “they don’t hear us in Europe!” , referring to the EU-Greece talks on European and Greece’s external Borders protection.
Commitments will be fulfilled by the deadlines
Earlier on Monday the Greek Defence Minister had reassured that “Greece will fulfill its commitments,” stating that all five “hot spots”for the refugees/migrants entrance screening and identification will be ready on the Greek islands in less than a week.
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos discussed in detail on a press briefing in Athens on Monday the construction work that is underway in old military camps since late January by the Greek Army, and assured that all five hotspots will be ready on February 15, the deadline agreed with the European partners and Angela Merkel .
The cost of supporting the incoming refugees and migrants over the past two years and a half has reached 2.7 billion euros(3.02 billion US dollars) for Greece, according to Panos Kammenos.
Greece requests more help from European partners and neighboring countries to face the huge refugee crisis challenge, as the debt laden country is threatened by the EU with an expulsion from the Schengen passport free travel zone, and while refugees continue to arrive in thousands day to day on the Aegean islands’ shores, despite bad weather and the cold waters of winter time.
The Greek Defence Minister stressed also that two relocation centers on the mainland will be ready by the deadline, despite protests from local communities. Hundreds have angrily protested on the streets of Kos island, as well as the Piraeus suburb of Keratsini and a district in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where the two relocation centers will be set up.
Kammenos said that the government is open to dialogue, but there is no time for lengthy discussions, he emphasised, as people are dying in the Aegean Sea and survivors need aid with no more delays. According to the government, all the “hot spots” are temporary structures.
Cabinet ministers , who are obliged, by all means on the moment, to act “under emergency” to protect Greece’s Borders, have dismissed the three local communities’ reactions, as “xenophobic outbreaks” by a minority of locals, while the vast majority of residents of the border islands have shown a total different face, trying to give, all of them, a helping hand .
Indeed, among protesters at Keratsini on Monday were ultra-Right Golden Dawn party MPs and members, but in several cases demonstrators have rejected any affiliation with the party.
@imouzalas: Real the out-of-Schengen threat
Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas being interviewed by Nikos Xatzinikolaou on Star TV late on Monday, did not rule out possible negative acts on the part of Europe
“They can even close the borders although Greece meets its commitments.”, he said openly
Mouzalas summed up the national policy for the refugees to:
the identification centers to be ready and adequately staffed,
creating relocation centers for refugees and asylum seekers,
and temporary centers.
Moreover, Greece is asking a safe corridor for refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and immediate readmission to Turkey of those not seeking asylum or refuse voluntary return.
Greece’s Alternate Interior Minister, during his interview to Nikos Hatzinikolaou on star tv, also referred to the issue of unaccompanied children saying that “we are lagging significantly behind.”
To address that issue, he said that a committee composed by the ministry, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has been set up.
The Europol police agency had warned on January 31 that young people arriving alone were particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking.
More than 10,000 unaccompanied children registered after arriving in Europe over the past 18 months to two years had disappeared, the EU’s law enforcement agency said.
«Children currently account for 36 per cent of those risking the treacherous sea crossing between Greece and Turkey,» the Unicef spokeswoman Sarah Crowe has also said.
«Children and women on the move now make up nearly 60 per cent» of those entering from Macedonia, she added.
(The figures mark a significant shift since June, when 73 per cent of migrants were adult males and only one in 10 were under the age of 18.)
Marie Pierre Poirier, Unicef’s special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, said women and children were even more vulnerable to the dangers of trying to travel to Europe.
Speaking to AFP on Monday, UNICEF’s Crowe said European mechanisms for protecting children had not worked.
This «is really a failure of child protection systems across the region», she said.
«Procedures need to be a lot faster and children need to be part of that process so they don’t fall through the cracks and they do not fall prey to smugglers and traffickers.»
Black Market on the islands
During the Press briefing on Monday February 8, Minister Kammenos also denounced “the flourishing of a black market on the islands in recent months.”
“A minority of locals has reportedly exploited the needy refugees, overcharging products and services, as long as the assistance from the state mechanism is insufficient, he said. To the moment, complete and ready, adequately functioning is only one “hot spot”that is running so far, and that’s on Lesvos island.
A total of 960,000 refugees entered Greece via Turkey on their way to other European countries since early 2015, according to the latest official data.
A permanent return to frontier controls in Europe would cost countries in the Schengen open-borders area about €110 billion over the next decade, the French government’s official think-tank said on Wednesday (3 February).
The Schengen agreement is a centrepiece of European integration. But, under pressure from voters alarmed by an unprecedented influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, several governments have already temporarily reintroduced controls at their borders with fellow European Union states.
A study by France Strategie, a think-tank directly attached to the prime minister’s office, said the drop in cross-border tourism and trade brought on by a permanent end of the free-travel area would cost Europe 0.8 percent of economic output over 10 years.
Germany reimposed controls on its border with Austria, after a record number of migrants travelled to southern Germany from Hungary, via Austria.
The influx of migrants also pushed Austria to restrict road and rail traffic on its border with Hungary.
The migrants entered the EU illegally, without Schengen visas.
Hungary became a hotspot as a gateway to the Schengen zone, so it built a fence on its border with Serbia.
The fence was much-criticised in the EU – but Serbia is outside Schengen, so Hungary argued that it was quite justified.
Hungary later erected fences on its borders with EU members Slovenia (in Schengen) and Croatia (not in Schengen).
On 4 January the focus switched to Schengen members Denmark and Sweden.
Denmark stepped up border controls with Germany, hours after Sweden extended identity checks on all travellers to reduce the influx of migrants.
Sweden is now refusing entry to anyone who has no photo identification.
It has slowed traffic across the Oresund road-rail bridge.
More than 160,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden last year – the highest per-capita figure in the EU.
In a December speech, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that free movement under Schengen would be safeguarded and “Schengen is here to stay”.
Schengen is often criticised by nationalists and Eurosceptics, such as the French National Front (FN), Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) and UK Independence Party. They say it is an open door for migrants and criminals.
When can countries reimpose border controls?
Under the Schengen rules, signatories may reinstate internal border controls for 10 days, if this has to be done immediately for “public policy or national security” reasons.
If the problem continues, the controls can be maintained for “renewable periods” of up to 20 days and for a maximum of two months.
An EU regulation in 2013 specified that such controls “should remain an exception and should only be effected as a measure of last resort, for a strictly limited scope and period of time”.
The period for temporary border controls is longer in cases where the threat is considered “foreseeable”. The controls can be maintained for renewable periods of up to 30 days, and for a maximum of six months.
But an extension of two years maximum is allowed under Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code, in “exceptional circumstances”.
In the Schengen zone currently six states have border controls in place: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.
Hungary’s controls affect two non-Schengen states: Croatia and Serbia. Last October it also imposed temporary controls on the border with Schengen member Slovenia.
In 2005 France reimposed border controls after the bomb attacks by Islamist militants in London.
Austria, Portugal and Germany reimposed border controls for some major sporting events, such as the Fifa World Cup.
How are non-EU citizens affected?
A short-stay visa costs €60 (£44; $68).
But the visa costs €35 for Russians, Ukrainians and citizens of some other countries, under visa facilitation agreements.
The EU has no visa requirement for citizens of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia who have biometric passports. These Balkan nations all hope to join the EU.
Kosovo is excluded from the arrangement.
Non-EU nationals who have a Schengen visa generally do not have ID checks once they are travelling inside the zone. But since the Paris atrocity those checks have become more common.
Since the scrapping of visas for travellers from the Western Balkans there has been a surge in asylum applications from that region.
Most of the asylum claims are submitted in Germany, which already has well-established diaspora communities from the Balkans.
Now the EU aims to establish a common list of “safe countries of origin”, including the Western Balkans and Turkey. It would help speed up the processing of asylum claims, and give a legal basis for sending many applicants home.
A 37-year old Iraqi who traveled from Istanbul to Athens with one of the false passports that were stolen by fighters of ISIS from Iraq, was arrested in El. Venizelos airport.
The 37-year old Iraqi , who lives in Athens and is married to Greek woman, argued that he received the disputed passport in Athens by mail, having sent only his a photograph of him to his cousin in Iraq, because since he could not go to Iraq himself to renew his passport , due to exit ban restrictions from Greece by which he had been charged in 2008, for human trafficking and the professional set up of criminal organization .
The whole batch of passports were stolen by jihadists from Iraqi citizens in Iraq. The police had received information from the Division of International Police Cooperation for the stolen passports, and as soon as the Iraqi’s passport was spotted, the man was arrested.
The Greek Police had been informed since the summer 2015, that a large number of vacant passports had been stolen by ISIS terrorists in the Iraqi province of Nineveh from the citizens they belonged to, during June, and that Iraqi authorities had canceled the whole batch of these passports in order to secure the entry of ISIS fighters to Europe.
The 37-year old who was arrested when he arrived from Constantinople with the morning flight, was working in an Athens restaurant and is also a co-owner, along with his two brothers, of a furniture manufacturing company based in Kurdistan.
He claim to the Greek that he visited Istanbul for a purchase of timber for his company, and also to meet his mother and one of his six sisters
Since last August , 2015, the presence of ISIS has been a reality in the islands of Aegean, and has set the Greek Police on Error Alert. In the first days of September, in the city of Mytilene, Lesvos, as Greek to me had exclusively reported at least four ISIS suspects had been arrested. One of them had been referred to have been driving a car, playing ISIS music around the tents of the Syrian refugees in the city downtown. He was identified by an Iraqi refugee due to the symbolism of wolds, and special music tune “related to ISIS Propaganda songs”. The Iraqi refugee had notified the authorities, who spotted the ISIS suspect and arrested him.
The other three have been arrested by the Police, after being recognized by citizens, while they were walking around the waterfront of Mytilene city. The symbols of their blouzes have been recognized by local citizens, and Police was informed. They were arrested by the assistance of National Intelligence Agency.
Despite the vigilance the Greek Police has up to now tried to show for the ISIS entrance to Europe threat, the emergency response of the whole Western world finds Greece inadequate to secure from the terrorists the external borders and the EU Commission warned that Greece could face border controls with the rest of the passport-free Schengen area if it fails to act within three months.
The European Commission on Tuesday endorsed a damning report into Greece’s border controls that concluded: “Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations and there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities.”
The Commission wants Greece to boost staff numbers at its borders to better register migrants, and to step up checks of new arrivals’ details against Interpol and the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Greece has promised to use its military to oversee its response to the refugee crisis. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos heralded the opening of the Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration, to be headed by a senior military official.
The body will be based in the country’s Ministry of Defense and will monitor the creation of five “hot spots” for the processing of migrants on islands off the country’s mainland, as well as improving transportation of refugees within the country.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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
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.
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.”
Bilateral relations, the refugee issue, the various crisis areas, and Cyprus, were among the issues discussed at the working dinner on January 23 evening in Berlin to the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias by his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
In his statements to the Greek and international press after the meeting, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Niko Kotzias, excluded once again the possibility of joint patrols of Greek and Turkish coastguard, and proposed Fronex to readmit those migrants that are not entitled to asylum, to Turkey, after their identification in Greece .
Foreign Minister Kotzias openly condemned, taliking to the press, the proposals for exclusion of Greece from Schengen.
Asked to comment on the recent Financial Times article , according to which Brussels and Berlin consider a proposal of Slovenia to strengthen care at the border between Greece and FYROM, which would result in trapping thousands of people in Greece, Mr. Kotzias noted that such a question had never been put from the German side and stressed that
“the Greek Foregn Ministry’s policy is to prevent any wrong thoughts to be translated into policy recommendations.”.
He added that
“these plans ( proposed by some new in the EE countries) have not understood how the Schengen works and what is its significance”
and underlined that
“sometimes the new members of the EU have yet to consolidate the Europeanism which is something they should do.”
The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias after his meeting with his counterpart in Berlin presented the Greek proposal for Frontex aid in the Aegean waters that Greece is asking for, in accordance with the fact that Greece requested by the European agency 100 vessels to be send to Greece, to carry back to the hotspot islands in Turkey, immigrants will be rejected for asylum.
According to the Greek Minister of Foreign affairs
The audit of the refugees flows should be done in Turkey,
Frontex must strengthen its fleet
while all newcomers, refugeees and migrants should be identified in the Hotspots in Greece that have to be completed as soon as possible , and also
there should soon be an agreement with Ankara refugees to be repatriated should board the vessels of Frontex and be transported back to Turkey.
In this way, the Greek Foreign Minister estimates, the number of those attempting to cross to Europe will be limited .
As regards to the discussion on the joint patrols of Greek and Turkish coast guard, Mr. Kotzias explained that this
“would put us automatically to the problems which we already have to solve with Turkey, but not to the refugees problem solving, while the is no reason to confuse the refugee crisis problems with more general Greek-Turkish relations problems “
The role of Frontex Foreign Minister Kotzias underlined,
«has nothing to do neither with the joint patrols or with the Greek-Turkish issues. It is a third, neutral factor for the Turks and could help to the readmission of those who are not entitled to asylum.
This is our proposal, ” the minister said, adding that such action would require about 100 additional ships. The search and the rescue, minister Kotzias clarified , are under the sovereignty of the Greek state.
“The Frontex may facilitate to the readmission of those who are not entitled to asylum.”
The minister said 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.
Greece has repeatedly called on Frontex to help send back people deemed ineligible for asylum in Europe, such as migrants from Morocco and Pakistan.