Frontex is considering withdrawing from Greece. But it will make the situation worse. An overview.
What happened? In mid-June, a fishing cutter carrying about 700 migrants from Africa capsized in the Mediterranean off Greece. The cutter was en route from Libya to Italy. 500 people are believed to have drowned. News agencies reported that 104 people survived, including the nine Egyptian hijackers. The crash site is on top of the so-called Calypso Low, 5000 meters above the Mediterranean Sea.
What was the charge against the Greek Coast Guard? The main allegation is that she is a so-called pushback. This means illegal activities that push people back behind the EU’s external borders. On the high seas, Greece is said to have pushed people into areas where it is not responsible for rescue.
Who is responsible for the calypso deep disaster? “They sank our boat,” the rescued migrants said of the Greek coast guard. “They don’t want our help,” reasons the Greek coast guard. A patrol boat reportedly tried to tow the boat with a rope, but its occupants refused.
What does the Greek government say about this allegation? “The Greek government does not want to comment on this. This refers to ongoing investigations, » says Rodothea Ceralito, a freelance journalist in Athens. At the time of the crash, an interim government was in power, not the conservative government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, “which is otherwise blamed for the alleged pushback in recent years,” says the journalist. Greece will never admit to violating international law by not willingly helping people in distress at sea. According to the journalist, it can also have criminal consequences.
What does Frontex say? According to media reports last week, Frontex is considering withdrawing its officers from Greece. Frontex is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
Why is Europol investigating now? Greek authorities asked European police authority Europol for help in the investigation over the weekend. The nine arrested smugglers are said to belong to a larger gang. Investigators now want to identify the accomplices.
What are the consequences of withdrawing Frontex? Seralido sees two possible outcomes: First, Greece will no longer receive financial support for border security. That means more migrants coming back to Europe. This will be a problem not only for Greece but for Europe as a whole. Second, Greece could take even tougher action against those on refugee boats, and there would no longer be any European body documenting it.
What does the EU want? “The EU is very interested in continuing to support Greece with border security,” says the Greek journalist. “Other EU countries also do not want to increase the number of arrivals.” This is the reason why Frontex is still in Greece and why the EU has not yet gotten tough with the country.
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