Juncker calls on Greece to agree to joint pa­trols

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A day af­ter the Greek For­eign Min­istry ruled out con­duct­ing joint pa­trols in the Aegean Sea with Tur­key, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker called on Athens to re­con­sider, not­ing that the refugee cri­sis is “a Euro­pean is­sue, it’s not an is­sue of Greek-Turk­ish re­la­tions.”

Speak­ing at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Brus­sels ahead of a two-day sum­mit of Euro­pean Union lead­ers on mi­gra­tion, Juncker asked Athens to re­think its po­si­tion as the co­op­er­a­tion of the two coun­tries’ naval forces, “un­der Euro­pean aus­pices,” would be “very use­ful” in the Aegean.

De­scrib­ing Tur­key is an im­por­tant but dif­fi­cult part­ner, Juncker said joint pa­trols of the Aegean were cru­cial as Tur­key has be­come a gate­way for hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees. He sug­gested that Turk­ish author­i­ties were open to the idea of joint pa­trols.

Ger­man gov­ern­ment spokesman St­ef­fen Seib­ert struck a sim­i­lar tone, stress­ing the need for a “co­or­di­nated sit­u­a­tion” be­tween Greece and Tur­key in the Aegean and at the EU’s ex­ter­nal borders to ob­struct the ac­tiv­i­ties of hu­man smug­glers.

The head of the EU’s task force in Greece, Maarten Ver­wey, said the process of iden­ti­fy­ing and reg­is­ter­ing mi­grants and refugees by Greek author­i­ties had im­proved, not­ing that of­fi­cials on the is­land of Lesvos were reg­is­ter­ing up to 3,500 mi­grants daily.

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