Greek Fugitives Caught In Turkey

Yunanistan’dan Türkiye’ye kaçanlar için kendi Frontex’imizi kuralım ve duvar örelim!

shutterstock_37917877Three of seven inmates who escaped from a Greek prison were captured after crossing into Turkey by swimming across a river, Today’s Zaman, Turkish newspaper reported, and will be sent back to Greece.

The inmates got out through a window and jumped over a fences. Police identified the prisoners as three foreign nationals from Iraq and one each from Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Six had been jailed for trafficking in illegal migrants and one for a drug-related offense.

Greek police handed out the identity information, photos and escape routes of the fugitives to the Edirne Police Department. The fugitives who were caught didn’t realize they were entering a restricted military zone and were immediately captured by Turkish border guards.

The report identified the captured fugitives as Algerian Ahmad Massoud, Egyptian Fahmy Alla al-Din and Iraqi Abdulkarim Marwan. They will be delivered to the Greek authorities as part of a 2001 re-admission agreement between Turkey and Greece.

via Greek Fugitives Caught In Turkey | Greek Reporter Europe.

Greece-Turkey illegal migration sparks call for change in Schengen

Luxembourg The surge in illegal migrants across the porous border between Greece and Turkey was set to prompt European Union ministers to call for drastic changes to Europe’s visa-free Schengen area on Thursday.

Under proposals being considered by home affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg, the 26 countries in the travel-free Schengen area may be allowed to restore border controls for up to a year under “exceptional circumstances”.

Among those circumstances, according to demands made by France and Germany earlier this year, are problems related to illegal immigration.

Migration has emerged as one of Europe’s most sensitive political issues amid the economic crisis.

Illegal crossings detected on the outer borders of the 26-nation area rose a sharp 35 per cent in 2011, from 104,000 the previous year to 141,000, largely due to flows across the Mediterranean from the Arab Spring upheavals, according to the EU’s Frontex agency manning the borders.

But the second biggest hot-spot was the border between Greece and Turkey, which registered 55,000 detections last year.

With low-cost flights to Turkey on the increase as war, chaos and poverty sends people fleeing hot-spots from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Somalia, the flow is forecast to increase.

A draft document does not spell out illegal migration as a reason to reintroduce checks and the EU’s home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has said Schengen was never designed to control migration.

Government change

She also noted this week that since a joint letter from France and Germany was put to ministers in April, the French government has changed, with socialist President Francois Hollande in place of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy, chasing the far-right vote, in April threatened to pull out of the Schengen zone within a year failing improved action to keep out illegal migrants.

“For us, this letter no longer exists,” Malmstroem said.

“I’ve not yet discussed it with the new French government but I’m sure France will have a constructive approach at the next interior ministers’ meeting.”

Currently, the Schengen treaty allows renewal of border controls in the case of a terror or security threat thrown up by sports or other events.

But if agreed by the ministers, the draft rules would allow a state within the Schengen area to reimpose border controls for six months, renewable for another six when “exceptional circumstances” require it.

France took that liberty last year, temporarily closing its border with Italy when the Arab Spring revolts threw thousands across the Mediterranean into Italy and Greece.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has proposed however that states be enabled to close borders for five days in case of migratory pressure, but must seek permission from Brussels for longer periods.

via gulfnews : Greece-Turkey illegal migration sparks call for change in Schengen.

EU: Numbers of illegal migrants crossing into Greece from Turkey falls sharply

By Associated Press, Published: March 8

BRUSSELS — The number of illegal migrants crossing into Greece from Turkey has fallen sharply since September, authorities said Thursday, a dip that coincides with improved border controls.

European Union officials said the Frontex agency reported that the number of migrants crossing the EU’s most porous land border had decreased from 2,000 to just 500 a week. The report was delivered at a meeting of the bloc’s 27 Home Affairs ministers in Brussels.

“The report shows that the overall situation remains worrying,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters after the meeting. “There is progress, but there remains a lot of work to be done.”

Frontex helps coordinate the work of national border authorities and provides expert assistance. It was deployed to the Greek-Turkish border in the second half of last year. Greece also has established an asylum authority which will operate a number of camps in order to better manage the flows.

On Wednesday, ministers from seven northern EU nations — Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Britain — called for an action plan to stem the tide of illegal migration into the union. They also urged better cooperation with non-member Turkey on security and migration issues and better management by Turkey of its own borders.

Passport-free travel in the so-called “Schengen zone” is considered one of the European Union’s signal achievements, easing the lives of ordinary citizens. But what applies to EU citizens also applies to illegal migrants — once they enter the Schengen zone, they can travel to any of its countries without showing passports or any other documents.

“Europe’s external borders must be effectively and consistently managed, on the basis of the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, mutual trust and increased practical cooperation,” said the conclusions adopted after Thursday’s ministerial meeting.

The European Union’s executive commission is due to submit in May a report on the functioning of the Schengen system, which covers all EU states except Britain and Ireland.

Last month, Greece announced that it will build a 6-mile- (10-kilometer) long, 13-foot- (4-meter) tall fence topped with razor wire on its border with Turkey to deter illegal immigrants.

Most of Greece’s 125-mile (200 kilometer) border with Turkey runs along a river known as Evros in Greece and Meric in Turkey. The new fence, which Turkey’s government has not opposed, will block a short stretch of dry land between the two countries.

The border is the main venue for illegal crossings into the European Union. Thousands of illegal immigrants cross from Turkey into Greece at this point each year, often traveling from there to other parts of Europe.

Since Greece is on the southeastern edge of the Schengen area, and Turkey has not signed the Schengen Agreement, Greece is required to maintain control of the border with the assistance of Frontex.

via EU: Numbers of illegal migrants crossing into Greece from Turkey falls sharply – The Washington Post.

Greek ‘wall’ is negative symbol, Turkey says

By Andrew Rettman

BRUSSELS – Turkey’s EU affairs minister has described the Greek anti-migrant fence as a symbol of division between the Union and outside countries.

Alluding to the Berlin wall, which used to separate western Europe from the Soviet bloc, Egemen Bagis told EUobserver on Wednesday (8 February): “It is not the time to talk about new walls in Europe – we need to talk about new bridges. Europe paid the cost of walls in the recent past and … everyone should work to build new bridges between different views, different cultures and different countries [instead].”

He added that “Turkey is a bridge between east and west” and that the Islamic country’s EU membership would “symbolise an alliance of civilizations.”

Greece this week began construction of a razor-wire barrier on its 13-km-long land border with Turkey.

The fence is designed to deter the thousands of people from Asia and north Africa who come each month to seek asylum in the Union.

The European Commission has described it as “pointless.” A Brussels-based NGO, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, said it would be a “tragedy” if it keeps out people fleeing conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria.

The Turkish minister’s remarks come in the context of prickly EU-Turkey relations – accession talks stopped over a year ago and the EU refuses to start negotiations on visa-free travel.

“The citizens of Belize, Paraguay, the 190 million citizens of Brazil, or the citizens of Malaysia – with all due respect to them – can travel to the [EU passport-free] Schengen zone without a visa, but my citizens have to wait in line … it is not correct,” he noted.

The EU says it will start visa talks only if Turkey signs a pact on taking back illegal migrants.

Bagis said the visa talks must come first: “Turkey is ready to initial the readmission agreement if the EU Council authorises the commission to launch visa facilitation talks leading to visa liberalisation.”

Greece is one of the main opponents of Turkey’s EU entry due to its occupation of northern Cyprus.

Bagis described Greece and Turkey as being “very close friends.” But he highlighted that Turkey is enjoying an economic boom even as Greece faces ruin.

“I was in Athens for a short holiday last month and I saw that Greece needs the active support of its friends as it struggles with the impact of the financial crisis. Turkey is among those countries that can help,” he noted.

via EUobserver.com / Enlargement / Greek ‘wall’ is negative symbol, Turkey says.

Greece stepping up security on border with Turkey

By COSTAS KANTOURIS Associated Press

Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis checks part... ((AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis))
Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis checks part... ((AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis))

KASTANIES, Greece—Greece announced on Monday that it will soon begin building a 6-mile-long (10-kilometer-long) fence topped with razor wire on its border with Turkey to deter illegal immigrants.

Thousands of illegal immigrants cross from Turkey into Greece at this point each year, often traveling from there to other parts of Europe.

Greek Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis went to the border village of Kantanies on Monday to announce that work on the 13-foot-tall (4-meter-tall) fence will start next month and is expected to be finished by September at a cost of more than euro3 million ($4 million). It will stretch from Kastanies to the Greek village of Nea Vyssa, near the northeastern town of Orestiada.

“This is an opportunity for us to send a clear message … to all the EU that Greece is fully compliant with its border commitments,” Papoutsis told reporters. “Traffickers should know that this route will be closed to them. Their life is about to get much harder.”

Greece is one of the 26 European nations in the Schengen Area, which has external border controls but not ones within the zone. Since Greece is on the southeastern edge of the area, and Turkey has not signed the Schengen Agreement, Greece is required to maintain its border controls.

During Papoutsis’ visit to Kastanies, about 40 people protested nearby, saying the fence is a violation of human rights and should not be built at a time when Greece is suffering a deep financial

crisis that has led to punishing austerity measures and high unemployment. About 200 riot police stood by, but no violence occurred during the demonstration.

Papoutsis said the fence will be coupled with a network of fixed night-vision cameras providing real-time footage to the new command center.

Most of Greece’s 125-mile (200 kilometer) border with Turkey runs along a river known as Evros in Greece and Meric in Turkey. The new fence, which Turkey’s government has not opposed, will block a short stretch of dry land between the two countries. Greece already is receiving emergency assistance at the Evros border from the EU border protection agency, Frontex.

On Monday, three men seen entering Greece at the point where the fence will be built told The Associated Press they are illegal immigrants who fled Syria’s violence.

One of the men, who identified himself only as Said, 24, said the trio had been walking for seven days, and that he hopes to reach an uncle in Hungary, which also is a member of Europe’s Schengen Area.

via Greece stepping up security on border with Turkey – San Jose Mercury News.