Athens, November 6, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The issue of common coastguard in the Aegean Sea by Greece and Turkey has brought back the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He, indeed, wondered why his proposal was rejected by Athens.
At the same time, he advocated maintaining open borders within the European Union and stressed that to make this possible, the external border of the EU should be guarded better.
“Internal borders must remain open. And if we want to ensure that the internal borders will remain open – and that was a very great achievement for Europe – we should guard the external borders better. Now everyone says that the external border must be guarded more effectively. We are working on this, but it’s harder than you imagine”, Juncker said, speaking in Frankfurt on the occasion of the anniversary of one year in the presidency of the European Commission.
“I had, for example, proposed and faced great reactions, for Greeks and Turks to provide a common coastguard between Turkey and the Greek islands. Turks agree, the Greeks not. Where do we live? What is the point, to fight over 10 kilometers of wide sea, who is where and for what everyone is responsible for, or to save human lives?”, Juncker wondered and stressed: “We need a European organized Coast Guard”, noting that he would table a proposal by the end of the year.
Juncker noted that with the subject matter of the refugees surface old rivalries.
“We saw this in the case of Greece. We feel it now with the lack of solidarity by some member states of the EU. I could not imagine the picture of German Chancellor with a Nazi uniform in the streets of Athens. After 60 years of European integration, I could not imagine such images or that some of those who joined the EU after the change in Europe, would move away from genuine solidarity. It is not how it should be”, said the Luxembourg politician and went on to say that he preferred a German Chancellor who “addresses the problems and shows that she has heart”.
He stressed that in the issue of refugees he strongly supports the Chancellor and, referring to the effort made by Germany, she spoke of a “tremendous service”.
If this problem is not controlled, “then the EU will fail. It is a matter of survival for the entire continent must contribute all – and they do, “he added. Juncker.
“If we threaten with sanctions those we want to convince to do more, we will not achieve anything”, he stated, noting: “The EU is not an ATM from which we simply take money, but sometimes we have to give as well”.
We still need more staff where there is need. This additional European staff is currently at the center of the islands, rather than in a joint effort to secure the coasts. You can’t explain to anyone why even now, after all these efforts, these 10km-long sea between Turkey and Lesvos is one more tomb”, he said.