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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

 

 

400.000 #refugees’ capacity camp demanded in #Athens by #EU, @imouzalas revealed

 

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Belgium’s interior minister has suggested Greece build a camp in Athens to accommodate up to 400,000 migrants, Greece’s minister of immigration policy @mouzalas told national media Tuesday.

“The Belgian minister raised the issue of camps for 300,000 to 400,000 migrants in Athens,”

Ioannis Mouzalas told Greece’s Skai TV broadcaster.

The EU interior and justice ministers met in Amsterdam on Monday, where they attempted to find institutional solutions to the migrant crisis that saw over a million people arrive in Europe last year.

EU’s “big and unfair blame game against Greece is despicable”,

Greek alternate minister Yiannis Mouzalas told to reporters after the meeting of European Union interior ministers in Amsterdam on Monday.

At the EU Ministers’ meeting the Greek Minister had asked for 100 new Frontex vessels, and 1000 more Frontex personnel to assist Greece to repatriation of those migrants denied to asylum, to Turkey,  shouting angrily to the EU miniters “We need Frontex in Greece!”

Europe, Ioannis Mouzalas  said on Monday Jan 25, later to the international and Greek reporters, has shortchanged Greece by providing smaller-than-promised numbers of everything from cots and fingerprinting machines to border guards.

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“It’s a myth that the Greek-Turkish border can’t be protected,” said Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner of Austria, which last week set an upper limit on new arrivals. Mikl-Leitner said the Greek navy has “sufficient capacity” to keep refugees out.

Nikos Toskas, a deputy interior minister, said it’s hard to stop some refugee-laden boats “except via sinking or shooting”, emphasising that

‘Cemetery of Souls’: Greece Hits Out at Plans to Exclude It From Schengen, Sputnik news article title wrote

The continent-wide name-calling harked back to the worst days of the debt crisis when Greece’s membership in the euro zone was imperiled. Germany and Austria pressured Greece to seal off its Aegean Sea border with Turkey, warning that the unchecked march of refugees from the Middle East would lead to longer-lasting passport controls at internal borders in western Europe,Bloomberg Business wrote

Mouzalas said Greece, as a frontline country that receives most of the new arrivals, was prepared to open new registration centers in early March.

The European Commission sought to tamp down speculation that it might be bolstering Macedonia’s border to bar Greece from the EU’s passport-free travel area known as the Schengen zone. “We have never discussed a Schengen suspension or an exclusion of a Schengen member,” Natasha Bertaud, a commission spokeswoman, said on Monday.

(sources: Sputnik, New Europe, Bloomberg Business )

 

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Refugees in thousands arriving in Athens from Lesvos, and the other Aegean islands, September 2015