Athens rules out joint sea pa­trols with Tur­key

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Diplo­matic sources in Athens yesterday ruled out the prospect of Greek and Turk­ish naval forces con­duct­ing joint pa­trols in the eastern Aegean in a bid to curb an in­flux of mi­grants and refugees.

Speak­ing to Kathimerini, Greek For­eign Min­istry sources said no of­fi­cial Euro­pean doc­u­ments raise the is­sue of joint sea pa­trols – which was first re­ported in the Ger­man press ahead of the draft ac­tion plan signed last week be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Tur­key on the sup­port of refugees and mi­gra­tion man­age­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the plan, Tur­key will “strengthen the in­ter­cep­tion ca­pac­ity of the Turk­ish Coast Guard, by up­grad­ing its sur­veil­lance equip­ment, in­creas­ing its pa­trolling ac­tiv­ity and search and res­cue ca­pac­ity, and step­ping up its co­op­er­a­tion with the Hel­lenic Coast Guard.”

In an in­ter­view with Ger­many’s Bild pub­lished yesterday, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel her­alded closer co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Greece, Tur­key and EU bor­der agency Fron­tex.

“In the Aegean Sea, be­tween Greece and Tur­key, both NATO mem­bers, traf­fick­ers do what­ever they want,” she told the pa­per.

Diplo­matic cir­cles in Athens sug­gest that Ankara is tempted to use the refugee cri­sis as a tool for prompt­ing ad­di­tional EU aid, con­ces­sions on the is­sue of EU visas, or the cre­ation of a buf­fer zone be­hind the Syr­ian bor­der.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees An­to­nio Guter­res crit­i­cized the EU’s new re­lo­ca­tion scheme, sug­gest­ing it lacks a hu­man di­men­sion. “You can­not just look [at] peo­ple and say ‘You go to Ger­many, you go to Swe­den, you go to Ro­ma­nia, you go to Por­tu­gal, you go to Spain’ with­out hav­ing a process of in­for­ma­tion of tak­ing into ac­count the in­ter­ests, for in­stance fam­ily, links, pref­er­ences,” Por­tu­gal’s for­mer prime min­is­ter told a press con­fer­ence at the end of a three-day visit to Greece.

Greek of­fi­cials said yesterday that 1,624 peo­ple had been res­cued over the past three days as they tried to en­ter the coun­try.

UNHCR chief An­to­nio Guter­res talk­ing to Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras, yesterday.

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