October 15, 2015
In the European Council’s “battlefield” Greek PM Alexis Tsipras will be squeezed in the corner. With cooperation between Greece and Turkey on the spotlight, Tsipras has to manage escaping from possible pitfalls, while securing that the preparation of hospots for refugees will not delay further due to lack of funding.
Emphasis will be given on the control and patrol of EU’s external borders, meaning those sea borders between Greece and Turkey. After softening EU’s migration policy and taking the initiative to host a big number of refugee flows, conditions have changed for Berlin as Chancellor Merkel is determined to harden her policy due to mounting domestic pressure. This means that the problematic Dublin II will be put again into full force, with Greece and Italy assuming an irrelevantly higher cost in terms of reception, accommodation, spending, screening, monitoring the refugees that cross the seas and enter in their territory.
The Greek government has made tremendous efforts to deal with this issue already since January. There were hopes that the German stance would push other EU member-states to receive more refugees or at least respect their quotas, but nothing like that happened.
Meanwhile, it is astonishing how Merkel and Junker are feeling so close to Turkey in this topic. It is the first time, especially amid shocking domestic turbulence in the country, that both are so straightforward with Ankara. Cooperation is needed between both sides, but not at any cost.
EU seems to be panicked and puzzled in the refugee crisis topic. Instead of consistently ignoring Athens’ well-justified concerns with regards to the naval or coastguard cooperation with Turkey in the rescue front, it would be easier to re-organize and better equip Frontex while hardening rhetoric over Turkey’s policy against smugglers. Proof is that after Berlin and Ankara agreed on a joint action plan last week, Turkey achieved to minimize smugglers’ activity and penetration among the refugees.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is preparing the first five hotspots in the islands to receive and screen refugees. Beside that, resettlement and relocation of refugees to other EU member-states is what PM Tsipras is going to propose, counting on the fact that Greece can no more stand additional massive inflows. Greece has no intention to deter inflows (nor can do so practically), but the problem remains how to avoid further deaths in the Aegean Sea.
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