Friday

16th Nov 2018

Bulgarian resources dominate Greek border assistance

Bulgaria has devoted vastly bigger resources than Germany to help Greece manage its irregular migrant problem.

An internal document sent by the Danish EU presidency to the EU Council in late April - and seen by EUobserver - outlines how individual member states participate in the so called Poseidon operation run by the EU's Warsaw-based border control agency, Frontex.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Frontex described the criminal networks as well-organised big businesses. (Photo: Hans Op De Beeck)

Poseidon was launched in early 2011 and brings together border guards from 23 member states and associated countries in the Schengen passport-free-travel agreement. Member states send their experts and equipment to assist Greek border guards either on a bilateral basis or as part of a larger operation co-ordinated by Frontex.

Among the revelations is the mixed nature of assistance from member state to member state. Some have bilateral agreements with Greece while others work only with Frontex or both.

Specialised tracking dogs, mobile thermo vision systems, helicopters, terrain vehicles and night vision technologies are among some of the tools and services provided.

Bulgaria is one of the more active member states. Despite sharing a border with Turkey, few migrants attempt to cross there. Frontex reports that only a small number of nationals claiming to be from Iraq, Turkey, Palestine and Syria attempted to enter Bulgaria illegally.

Meanwhile, Sofia sent 69 experts in border surveillance, border control and service dog handlers to Greece last year. Another seven Bulgarian experts were stationed at the international co-ordination centre in Alexandroupolis, a city located some 40 km from the Turkish border.

The Bulgarians also supplied 14 mobile thermo vision systems, four manual thermo vision systems, 16 off-road vehicles and four dogs.

For 2012, the Bulgarians have reduced the number of border surveillance experts to 20, but increased the number of dogs and mobile thermo vision systems. They are also supplying 29 patrol cars, 10 manual thermo cameras and sending 10 experts to Alexandroupolis.

The German federal police currently have 10 officers stationed along the Turkish land border. The officers are tasked with area surveillance using thermal imaging and night vision technology.

At the border, they help control trans-border traffic and focus on finding migrants hidden away in vehicles possibly destined for Germany.

The Germans have also agreed to increase the personnel of the federal police for bilateral co-operation in 2012. This includes strengthening support for and co-operation with the Greek police and the Hellenic Coast guard along the Evros river, airports and seaports.

The Poles deployed 25 border guards, two dogs, a helicopter and six service vehicles and are willing to provide additional assistance if requested. The Romanians started participating in the joint-land operation at the end of March and sent 15 border patrol experts and eight vans.

The Austrians sent 48 border guards as well as one infrared-camera vehicle and will station two permanent officers as well as one Frontex support officer.

Slovenia has opted out and will not send any experts on upcoming missions to Greece due to "financial constraints." Last year, they sent two border surveillance experts and deployed a patrol car and a portable thermo vision device.

Finland has no intentions of establishing bilateral co-operation with Greece on border management but is instead working under Frontex. They sent 14 border experts in March for a mission that ends in December. Along with the experts, Finland provided four border guard dogs.

For its part, Frontex claims the border is under control but that attempted border crossings from Turkey into Greece continue.

"The level of detection of migrants is very high and is estimated to be around 90 percent," a Frontex spokesperson told EUobserver on Tuesday (May 22).

"The border is controlled ... the question is why are people still arriving in such large numbers," she added.

The flow of migrants, many arriving through organised criminal networks, continues along the river. Some, for example, fly in from Rabat to Istanbul on budget airlines and then pay the equivalent of €5 for a bus ride to the border crossing at Ipsala.

Frontex described the criminal networks as well-organised big businesses. "It's a machine," said the spokesperson.

Greece struggling to manage asylum seekers

Nearly 30,000 irregular border crossings were detected on Europe’s external borders in the last three months of 2011, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Investigation

Land border sealed, Greek police chief says

A chief of police in north-eastern Greece says irregular migrants no longer cross into the country from Turkey. Land mines from World War II are among the deterrents.

Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources

Romania's data protection authority is headed by Ancuta Gianina Opre, who in 2017 was charged with abuse of office in her previous job. Last week, she threatened a €20m fine against journalists in their effort to uncover corruption.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  2. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  3. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  4. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  5. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  6. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  7. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  8. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us