“The 2015 migration crisis” 13/11/2017

On November 13, 2017, the 3rd session of the seminar entitled “The 2015 migration crisis” took place at the Delegation of the European Commission in Athens. 

The first speaker Mr.Grigorios Apostolou head of the FRONTEX liaison office in Greece argued that in recent years there has been a huge improvement in the way FRONTEX operates, due to the change in internal procedures, flexibility in moving staff where needed and the new regulation establishing a European Border and Coast Guard Service, one of the Greek Government’s consistent demands for many years, as well as an increase in its staff (430 employees as permanent staff and about 800 border guards from Member States). Mr. Apostolou highlighted the need for cooperation with Turkey, as he characteristically said: “Turkey reacts best when European forces are involved in the Greek-Turkish border.”

Continuing, next speaker Mr Apostolos Veizis representative of the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ program accused Europe of grossly violating the human rights of refugees due to poor reception conditions, the detention policy adopted by many Member States, the opening and closing of the borders and finally the voluntary return policies. In his speech, Mr. Veizis pointed out that Doctors Without Borders contributed to the vaccination of the 83% of the incoming population. At the moment, he said, vaccination for thousands of asylum seekers is on the air, due to problems in issuing a Social Security Number (AMKA). Replying to a question, Mr. Veizis commented, “The way mixed migration flows are managed in Greece has been, is at the moment and will remain miserable. In order to be able to absorb money there must be a corresponding political will to manage the situation. “

In her speech, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative Ms. Evi Savvopoulou acknowledged that international organizations were slow to respond to the 2015 refugee crisis. Speaking of the current situation in Greece, she mentioned that there are 32,000 immigrants in the Greek mainland for whom there are currently 18,000 apartments offered and 12,000 on the islands. UNHCR today calls for an extension of the duration of the relocation process, as Ms. Savvopoulou stated.

“Greek foreign policy suffers sometimes from bipolar political disorder syndrome” said Charalambos Tsardanidis, Associate Professor at the University of the Aegean, comparing the stages of the refugee crisis to the Greek foreign policy. The first period of the refugee crisis (January-September 2015) is characterized as an open door policy and the narrative of the power of political volontarism. Refugee crisis management has also been used as a negotiating paper with the EU on the issues of the economic crisis and at the same time it has been correlated to the energy and foreign policy issues of the country, in relation to Russia (externalization). At the same time, the refugee issue has also been used for the internal problems of the country (internalization).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *