Thursday

30th Jun 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Pegasus spyware makers grilled by MEPs

"We will not continue to work with a customer that is targeting a journalist illegally," Chaim Gelfand, chief compliance officer of NSO Group told MEPs — but shed little light on EU governments' use of its Pegasus spyware.

Opinion

Romania — latest EU hotspot in backlash against LGBT rights

Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

News in Brief

  1. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  2. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  3. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  4. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  5. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms
  6. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies
  7. EU Commission told to improve CAP data analytics
  8. Scotland pushes for second independence vote in 2023

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  2. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  3. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting
  4. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  5. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto
  6. The euro — who's next?
  7. One rubicon after another
  8. Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us