Athens, September 29, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
While the EU, through the Commissioner for Migration and Home affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos expresses satisfaction that Greece is applying – albeit gradually – the Dublin agreement on asylum, for the fact that refugee migrations from Greece and Italy to the EU countries is gradually rising, that controls in the Schengen internal borders remain limited and, finally, that the EU agreement with Turkey is broadly being implemented, tensions in the Greek islands – and not only – continued with alarmingly increasing rates.
The last case was the protest march on Wednesday night in Chios, where locals demonstrated their objection to the stay of refugees in the island. The protests of local communities is not only expressed with marches, but also with objections to the inclusion in public education of refugee children living in Greece.
More than 60,000 refugees are trapped in Greece, with the islands “accommodating” 1/3, making living conditions for both refugees and local communities stifling.
According to the agreement signed in March between the EU and Turkey, Greece has no right to transfer new refugees from the islands to the mainland. If this happens, then the deal collapses. This issue also was raised at the Tsipras – Erdogan meeting, in which there was an agreement.
At the same meeting, the Turkish President raised his concerns about the EU’s stance on the agreement, saying he fears that in many European countries there is no will for its continuation. IBNA is in a position to know that Tayyip Erdogan believes that the Europeans will try to cancel the agreement, blaming Greece or Turkey. Something that would undoubtedly bring both countries in a difficult position.
Both countries want the agreement signed in March in Brussels to continue. Despite the fact that Turkey was tested by the failed coup of July 15, refugee flows remain low compared to the flows of the same months of 2015.
But what scares the Greek government is the growing tensions in the accommodation centers and local communities. The poor living conditions in the refugee settlements, the length of stay and the lack of hope for the near future, create tension, and what the government fears most are individual acts of violence that would make the situation in accommodation centers unmanageable.
Any violence resulting in the death of refugees and even Greek or European employees or otherwise, in areas where refugees stay, will open the Pandora’s box, creating chaotic conditions, which would be difficult to address.
Naturally, the government’s priority is to provide decongestion of the islands, improve the living conditions of refugees, intensify the efforts for the resettlement and return of refugees and for the EU to stay true to its obligations, something it has not done so far.