The European Union’s commissioner for migration urged EU member states on Monday (November 28) to take more refugees and send more asylum experts to help with the processing of migrants in countries such as Greece, where tensions have escalated at overcrowded camps.
“The crisis we are all confronted with is far away from being over soon,” EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said during a forum in Athens organised by the European Asylum Support Office.
- He said an agreement between the bloc and Turkey to stem the flow of migrants to Europe must continue at “all costs”.
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has suggested he might scrap the deal to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants inside his borders in return for the promise of accelerated EU membership talks, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe and financial aid.
- Last week, members of the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to freeze talks on Turkey joining the bloc, as a protest against Ankara’s crackdown on dissent after a failed coup in July.
- Greece says it is overwhelmed by the number of asylum requests it has to handle and has often appealed for more personnel.
There are more than 60,000 migrants in Greece, most of whom have applied for asylum. The sluggish process has sparked anger among the migrants and fires and riots have broken out in the cramped camps on the islands.
European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Executive Director Jose Carreira, whose organisation is responsible for processing asylum requests, said the migrants crisis was “here to stay.” Carreira said the deal with Turkey was working well but if it fell through, a new plan to stem the flow would be devised.
The EASO director echoed the commissioner in saying the organisation, currently running at some 200 people, needed to double those numbers.
Last month EASO offices in a camp on the island of Lesbos were set on fire by migrants protesting against delays in processing asylum claims.
London’s Express is reporting that:
Athanassios Drougas, an intelligence expert in Athens, told The Times: “No one is underestimating Mr Erdogan and his unpredictability these days.
“These plans, along with explicit threats that the Turkish president has made in recent weeks, have Greece’s joint chiefs of staff seriously concerned.
“They are fearful and they have told the political leadership here that if Turkey opens the floodgates yet again, Greece, in its current state of financial and social distress, will not be able to withstand the shock.
“It will spell war or wreak the havoc of one.”
Reuters News, TRUNEWS Commentary
PANIC STATIONS: Secret plan to WALL OFF Europe if Turkey unleashes ‘3m migrant tsunami’
EUROPEAN countries have hatched a secret plan to frantically wall off the north of the continent if Turkey goes through with a threat to open the floodgates for millions of migrants, it emerged tonight
States in central Europe and the Balkans have been put on red alert for another massive wave of asylum seekers after Recep Tayyip Erdogan handed the extraordinary blackmail note to EU leaders.
And now Serbia has revealed it has drawn up emergency plans to follow in the footsteps of neighbours Bulgaria, Macedonia and Croatia in constructing a huge barrier which would seal off most of the continent.
The extraordinary measure was leaked by Government insiders who said ministers fear Islamist despot Erdogan is about to unleash a “tsunami” of three millions migrants on Europe.
They told the state-owned Novosti newspaper that the already prepared “Plan B” could be enacted within a short timeframe to protect the country from any further refugee chaos.
The paper reported: “If Turkey, as its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened yesterday, opens the border for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries that are on its territory…the Serbian government has prepared a ‘plan B’.
“It will be activated and a proposal will be discussed for our country, just like our neighbours, to build a wall on its southern borders.”
Serbia – which is not an EU member – is a vital transit point on the migrant journey northwards from Greece towards the promised lands of Germany and Sweden.
But as neighbouring countries including Hungary to the north have taken an increasingly tough stance on immigration, putting up their own border fences, more and more refugees have become trapped there.
And labour minister Aleksandar Vulin confirmed that the authorities have been planning for the potential collapse of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, saying border controls with its southern neighbour Bulgaria – which is in the EU – would be “significantly” beefed up.
Nenad Popović, leader of the opposition Serbian People’s Party, also called for the construction of a wall after Novosti published a leader article headlined: “We are threatened with a ‘tsunami’ of 3,000,000 migrants!”
He said: “We urge the Government to urgently take the decision to build a wall on the border with Macedonia to halt the uncontrolled influx of migrants into Serbia.”
The number of migrants travelling along the Balkans route has been reduced from a flood to a trickle in recent months after the EU signed a deal with Turkey to stem the flow.
Under the terms of the agreement Ankara takes back all migrants who do not apply for asylum in Greece, or whose applications are rejected, and in return Europe takes in another Syrian from a camp in Turkey.
However, relations between president Erdogan and European leaders have become increasingly strained in recent months, with the Turkish leader accusing the EU of reneging on its promise to give his people visa-free access in return.