Athens, October 26, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Satisfaction at the fact that three absurd, as he described them, proposals in relation to the refugee crisis were rejected expressed shortly after the end of Sunday’s informal “mini-summit” in Brussels, the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras.
The first absurd proposal referred to the creation of “a city” of 50,000 refugees within Greece. This proposal would come in addition, as the Prime Minister said, to the already commitments of the Greek side, to create centers of 7,000 persons on the islands and 20,000 more on other locations in Attica and Northern Greece.
All of them, explained the prime minister, are temporary hospitality places before the relocation process starts. Alexis Tsipras noted that eventually, instead of creating a “town” of 50,000 refugees, the Summit adopted the Greek proposal of a rent subsidy for 20,000 refugees for as long as they remain in Greece. The prime minister said that this proposal represents a substantial contribution to the development of the Greek economy, while, as he noted, will result in the integration of refugees in the social fabric of the country.
The second absurd proposal that was rejected had to do with the option of a country to not permit the passage of refugees from another country in its territory. If that were the case it would result in stopping the flow and creating a domino effect that would eventually mostly burden Greece.
Instead of this option was adopted the update of the transit countries for the number of refugees that affect them.
The third absurd proposal that was rejected was the one that concerned the possibility to have a new Frontex operation in the northern borders of Greece in order to prevent and control the refugee flows to FYROM.
The PM expressed his satisfaction for the rejection of this proposal, noting that border protection is exclusively a national responsibility. The only involvement of Frontex, he clarified, will address the identification of cases of refugees who will have not already passed the identification process in the reception centers in the islands. These cases will be minimal, he estimated, because most of the refugees who arrive on the islands seek registration.
Continuing, the premier emphasised that all countries share the common view that Turkey plays a vital role in the refugee flows. An understanding with Turkey is one that will create the conditions to reduce the flow of refugees, Tsipras stressed.
The prime minister also said that during the meeting there was an understanding for the position Greece is in, starting from the fact that controlling refugee flows can’t take place in the middle of the corridor, but at its entrance. Tsipras also mentioned the need for close cooperation and coordination between the Turkish Coast Guard and the Greek port authorities, but stressed that each country should have the responsibility of guarding its own territorial waters.
Moreover, the prime minister said that in the near future the European Commission will table concrete proposals to Turkey, which he said creates hope for a decisive tackling of the refugee flows.
In conclusion, the PM said that there is no doubt that in the issue of the refugee crisis, the EU is making moves towards the right direction, albeit slowly. The refugee problem, he said, is something that transcends us and should be tackled in a coordinated manner by Europe. In any other case we are compromising the very cohesion of the European Union, Tsipras stressed. What should prevail is common sense, the logic of solidarity, and of shared responsibility.