Post originally appeared on Keep Talking Greece.
The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament cheer. Jean Claude Juncker called on Greece to accept joint Greek-Turkish patrols on the Aegean, and claimed – probably with solidarity tears in his eyes – that the refugee crisis is “a European issue, it’s not an issue of Greek-Turkish relations.”
Speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels ahead of a two-day summit of European Union leaders on migration, Juncker asked Athens to rethink its position as the cooperation of the two countries’ naval forces, “under European auspices,” would be “very useful” in the Aegean.
He also described Turkey as “an important but difficult partner” and said that joint patrols of the Aegean were crucial as Turkey has become a gateway for hundreds of thousands of refugees. He suggested that Turkish authorities were open to the idea of joint patrols.
As the idea of joint patrols originated from Germany, Juncker found a devoted supporter to what he claims to be his own proposal.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert stressed the need for a “coordinated situation” between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean and at the EU’s external borders to obstruct the activities of human smugglers.
EP President Martin Schulz could, of course, not stay out of the pressure towards Greece and tweeted:
What is extremely interesting is that Juncker’s call, Seifert’s coordinated intervention and Schulz’s enthusiasm come a day after the Greek Foreign Ministry categorically rejected the Joint Patrols with Turkey, saying that such patrols “were out of question.”
Even the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos intervened in the issue and said that
“Cooperation to address the humanitarian crisis of war refugees in no way can mean discounts or concessions with respect to the sovereign rights of member states.”
The Euro Summit today that is focusing on the Refugee Crisis may turn into a hell for Greece and I wouldn’t be surprised if Juncker tells Tsipras: “you either accept the joint patrols or I cancel the 35-billion-euro package.” The much promised Juncker aid package that the EC -all of a sudden- announced today that will arrive in in Athens “tomorrow” meaning that the money will be released in fact “next week.”
Who has forgotten, German Deputy Finance Minister Thomas Steffen who had shot the first blackmail bullet bringing aid to Greece in close context of the refugee Crisis. Steffen that”Greece had to “settle its refugee problem first, before any aid program is agreed.
“During the teleconference of finance secretaries on Friday night [7. August 2015], the German representative Thomas Steffen demanded that Greece had to get its refugee problem under control first, before the program could be resolved.
Other member states rejected the German proposal as “irrelevant.” (FAZ, Spiegelonline via KTG)
Arriving at the EUCO Summit earlier today, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that
“Greece is ready to cooperate with Turkey on the basis of intentional law and Turkey’s accession process to EU. But first of all, we have to find solutions to try to stop the influx of refugees, to take decisions to solve the crisis in Syria.”
The recent statement by Greek foreign Ministry was making clear what Greece had in mind for a cooperation with Turkey: exchange of information, readmission of refugees by Turkey.
PS I try to recall when exactly Hungarian PM Orban called for the EU to protect Greece’s borders. Our partners got Orban’s proposals wrong as Turkey is not an EU member.