Athens, March 7, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
All eyes will be on Brussels on Monday where the crucial European Union – Turkey Summit to discuss the refugee crisis will take place, along with a simultaneous Eurogroup meeting that may decide when the Greek bailout review will continue.
Having defined his main arguments and demands during the weekend, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will try to strike a deal that will secure assistance in stemming and handling refugee flows while keeping Greece firmly inside the Schengen Area.
Speaking at a Syriza Central Committee gathering on Sunday, Tsipras stressed that he will urge counterparts in Brussels on Monday that EU Turkey must implement and accelerate the readmission procedures for refugees. Greece will also demand “equitable sharing of the burden among member-states”. “Will a Europe of fear and racism overtake a Europe of solidarity” Tsipras asked.
The Greek premier also slammed the “conservative and far-right” groups in Europe that want to destabilize the Syriza – ANEL coalition government in Greece.
Alexis Tsipras is expected to come under significant pressure from several eastern European states and Balkan countries that have criticized Athens for fialing to secure the country’s maritime border with Turkey and “waving through” migrants to the rest of the Union.
Tsipras has accused Austria and Balkan countries of “ruining Europe” by slowing the flow of migrants and refugees heading north from Greece.
The joint statement signed by the majority of Greek political party leaders last week will give Tsipras added firepower as he attempts to strike a positive deal for Greece. The country’s party leaders agreed, inter alia, that unilateral action in dealing with the refugee crisis must cease and “the European Union must take seriously into account that Turkey has failed to fulfill specific obligations, endorsed by the summit of November 29, 2015”.
The EU Commission has already promised 700 million euros in emergency aid, while many European leaders – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel – have supported Greek positions during the crisis.
Referring to the negotiations on the bailout program review by creditor institutions, Tsipras underlined that it “will be completed despite the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) delaying tactics”.
The Greek side hopes that in Monday’s Eurogroup meeting the IMF will be urged to ease demands – especially on the fiscal side and social security reform – so that high-ranking officials could return to Athens in order to wrap up the first program review.