Friday, July 12, 2024
 
 

Brussels' action plan to support Greece

EPA-EFE//ERDEM SAHIN
Thousands of refugees push to illegally cross the closed Greek-Turkish border, near Edirne, Turkey. The Turkish government on February 27 announced that it would no longer stop refugees from reaching Europe.

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EU Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and the Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson announced that Brussels has adopted an action plan for Greece that would help the country cope with the emergency situation on its northern border with Turkey.
Schinas emphasised that the EU leadership’s visit to the Greek-Turkish border on March 3 was of particular importance, labelling it an “unprecedented sign of solidarity” as “Greece’s border, along with Bulgaria’s and Cyprus’, are also Europe’s borders.”
“When Europe is tested, we are able to prove that we can hold the line and our unity will prevail”.
Schinas criticised Turkey’s move to “weaponise” migrants to achieve its geopolitical goals, but then walked back much of the force of his statement by clarifying that Turkey is not an enemy of the EU.
The key points in the EU’s plan for Greece include:
a. Carrying out rapid border intervention operations via Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, through the mobilisation of assets from member states;
b. Frontex will coordinate a new return programme for the repatriation, from Greece, of those who do not have the right to stay to their countries of origin. This will fall under a new mandate for Frontex returns;
c. The mobilisation of €350 million in financial assistance for border and migration management, which will be made immediately available to Greece. In particular, the aid will assist the country with its reception capacities, voluntary returns, and the infrastructure needed for health and security screening procedures;
d. Following Greece’s request, the Commission launched the Civil Protection Mechanism to provide the country with the necessary medical equipment and staff;
e. The need to strengthen regional and operational cooperation, through the development of a coordination mechanism with the countries of the Western Balkan. To this end, status agreements shall be concluded and implemented.
Ahead of the EU’s new pact for migration and asylum, which is currently under discussion, Schinas stressed the need for the new framework to guarantee “meaningful and effective solidarity.”
Unlike Schinas, Johansson kept her hard stance against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying that “the right to asylum does not mean that Erdogan can send as many migrants as he wants into the European Union.”
The Commissioner for Home Affairs stressed the need to protect Greece’s borders and, by extension, those of Europe in a way that it is compatible with respecting fundamental human rights.
“Europe’s borders are not open and should not be open,” Johansson told journalists before adding that “this political crisis cannot turn into a long-term humanitarian crisis”.

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