Thursday

21st Feb 2019

EU to deploy armed patrols at Greek-Turkish border

The EU is to deploy border patrols in Greece in a bid to stop the increasingly high numbers of irregular migrants crossing over from Turkey, days after Athens was criticised by the United Nations over its "appalling" conditions for detainees.

"The situation at the Greek land border with Turkey is increasingly worrying. The flows of people crossing the border irregularly have reached alarming proportions and Greece is manifestly not able to face this situation alone. I am very concerned about the humanitarian situation," home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement on Sunday (24 October).

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

Following a request from the Greek government, the EU will deploy its Rapid Border Intervention Teams (Rabit-s) for the first time since their creation in 2007.

Drawn from the member states' "national reserve" put at the disposal of Frontex, the EU's border control agency, the Rabit-s are mandated to observe national and EU law and will be embedded with Greek border patrols.

The Rabit-s have authorisation to access Greek databases and "when necessary, use force." They are authorised to carry their service weapons and national uniform, but will wear a blue armband with the EU and Frontex logo.

During their deployment, Rabit-s are regarded as Greek border patrols if any offence is committed against or by them.

Frontex naval patrols have in the past come under fire for assisting Italian border guards in pushing back migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea without offering the minimum humanitarian assistance required under international law.

Ms Malmstrom said that she expected "proper assistance to be given to all person crossing the border and that the request for international protection will be considered, in full compliance with EU and international standards."

Earlier on Sunday, Greek home affairs minister Christos Papoutsis said that "a mass influx" of irregular migrants was registered every day at the Greek land border with Turkey "with the aim of accessing other EU countries."

"The increasing pressure of illegal migration flows on Greek borders is a clearly European problem that demands a European solution," he said.

Last week, the United Nations also called on the EU to do more to lighten the migrant burden on Greece, which it said has "catastrophic" conditions for detainees.

In 2008, 50 percent of irregular migrants arrested in the EU were detained in Greek prisons, but in the first eight months of 2010 the figure rose to 90 percent, the UN said. The detention conditions, as described by UN's special investigator on torture and cruel treatment, are "inhuman and degrading ... appalling ... dysfunctional."

After neighbouring Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Malta and Italy tightened up their border controls in past years, a bigger influx of migrants is now registered in Greece.

According to Frontex, more than three-quarters of the 40,977 people intercepted while trying to enter without proper documents into the EU in the first half of 2010 entered through Greece, mainly coming via Turkey.

Politically at odds over the island of Cyprus and with Ankara pressing the EU for visa-free travel, Turkey and Greece nevertheless recently announced "systematic bilateral co-operation" in the area of migration.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Athens on Friday, Greek premier George Papandreou said that a "xenophobic climate" is being cultivated in Europe and hoped that bilateral co-operation with Turkey would help alleviate the trend by reducing the wave of migration.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile noted the potential benefits for Greek tourism if the EU visa regime for Turkish citizens was relaxed.

Greek gateway to EU is 'inhuman and degrading'

A UN rapporteur has described as "inhuman and degrading ... appalling ... dysfunctional" the conditions in many Greek detention facilities, where the vast majority of irregular migrants seeking to enter the EU get their first glimpse of the bloc.

EU data verdict imminent on Romania's €20m reporters' fine

National data protection authorities from around the EU are about to make public their decision on a threat by Romania's data chief to force journalists to reveal their sources, in a case involving high-level political corruption.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  2. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations
  3. No-deal Brexit danger 'very serious', Corbyn says after Brussels meeting
  4. Tusk to back pro-EU candidates in Polish EP vote
  5. Germany rejects UK appeal on Saudi arms sales
  6. French senators decry 'dysfunction' on Macron security aide affair
  7. France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism
  8. Swedish climate activist to face Juncker in Brussels

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  2. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  3. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  4. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  5. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  6. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  7. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  8. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us