Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos’ intervention at the 3rd international NO-EURO Forum
What do Dublin,Geneva and Schengen have in common? They are three European cities where important agreements on refugees and the free movement of people have been signed.
The UN Geneva Convention of 1951 relating to the status of refugees gives the definition of the term refugee and regulates the obligations of States towards asylum seekers and describes the rights and obligations of refugees.
Schengen is a beautiful town in Luxembourg whre the Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 and came into force on March 26,1995.(observations from first day of implementation Singh).It anticipates free movement of people among the participating member-states of the EU and also guarantees the protection of personal data.Three non EU countries also participate in the Schengen system,Norway,Switzerland and Iceland.In 1997 it is incorporated in the Amsterdam Agreement and today is part of the acquis communautaire of the Lisbon Agreement.
The Dublin II agreement of 2003,signed between the Member States of the EU defines the Member-State of the EU that is responsible to examine the asylum application of a refugee and that is usually the country of first entry.
In Syria a war has been waging for 5 years now,a war instigated by the USA to overthrow Assad.In this war there are some EU and Nato countries actively participating like Germany,France,UK,Danemark,Netherlands and Turkey.This war has created an enormous exodus of refugees from that country to Europe.Failed EU economic policies in Africa(Fishing Agreements) have failed to bring growth to those countries with a result that many economic refugees are trying also to enter Europe.
In 2015,according to UNHCR data,856.723 people entered Greece ,while during the first thee months of this year the number was 151.453.After the EU-Turkey Agreement o f18 March 2016,the number of refugees was drastically reduced but after the aborted coup in Turkey the flow has restarted and today we have about 100 arrivals daily.
Back in the 80s and 90’s the EU was boasting that it was not a fortress preventing people from coming in but it was open to all wanting to come and work.
But the general incompetence prevailing in the EU was to change that.The EU is currently in such a disarray that is a prelude to its collapse.From an EU of the peoples it has transformed to a EU of the banks.No respect for human rights and democracy any more,destroying its members,constant mistakes like Ukraine,Libya,Syria .No leaders anymore (Cheyson-Genscher).EU member states are bombing and fighting in Syria with the US and Turkey committing acts of genocide on the kurds in SE Turkey and nobody is saying anything about it.
When the refugees started coming to Greece in 2015 as a result of increased military operations in Syria and from Greece to the other EU countries,the EU panicked.Brussels did not know how to react.Passport controls were put on certain internal borders,Germany stopped implementing the Dublin 2 Agreement,Greece was threatened that it would be expelled from the Schengen Treaty(there is no provision in that Treaty providing for an expulsion of a member),Greece’s neighbors of the North started building barbed wire walls to keep these poor people out.
Instead of trying to stop the war in Syria which would dramatically reduce the numbers of refugees fleeing from that destroyed country,the EU entered into a phase of defensive refugee management,which meant how to manage the crisis in Europe.So the EU started meeting and many Summits were held.The EU summit of 25-26 June 2015 anticipated the relocation of 40.000 refugees from Greece and Italy and of another 20.000 that needed international protection into other EU countries.In spite of more EU decisions for the implementation of the relocation (8 March 2016 and 18 March 2016) until today only 3000 have been relocated. On March 18 we had the EU-Turkey agreement which provided promised Turkey 3 billion euros,visa liberation in exchange for the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back all irregular migrants,to use the wording of the statement-intercepted in Turkish waters.But it is ironic that Turkey held its part of the bargain since from April the influx of refugees to Greece started to decrease and almost stopped.This until the July 15 attempted coup against Erdogan.After that because Turkey gave emphasis to the arrest of the coup plotters,prevention of refugees going into Greece went into low priority and the influx once more started.While all summer the number of refugees in Greece fluctuated between50-55thousand ,today that number has increased to 60.000 and depending on developments in Syria that number might even increase more.In Italy the number has increased after the March agreement with Turkey.
NATO has been involved and has sent ships in the Aegean to “monitor” the situation but in reality to send a message to Russia that it is there.
Now the EU is trying is ,,is trying, through financial assistance to Greece and to others.to buy itself out of a problem that it itself has created.
In Greece,a country that has been obliterated and lost its sovereignty by the memoranda and the austerity measures,a country whose youth is seeking better living conditions abroad too , now hase 60.000 humans that are stuck there.These are people who do not want to stay in Greece but to continue their journey into the central and northern EU countries.Greece is being transformed into a gigantic concentration camp for the refugees.It is also becoming a refugee camp for the impoverished Greek citizens.This situation is untolerable and cannot continue.The refugees themselves feel like prisoners and their money is running out.And when that happens we will have refugees running around the country robbing and looting.Already there have been incidents in the camps of fighting among them,fatal ones too,as local mafias are trying to take advantage of their plight.The Greek people have shown their solidarity towards the refugees and have helped them as much as possible since we know how it is to be a refugee,having experienced that many times in our history.
So what can be done?
1.Stop the war in Syria.
2.Exercise pressure on the EU to implement its relocation decision of the 60.000
3.Give the whole operation to UNHCR to handle it according to the Geneva Convention.EPAM in a declaration adopted by its 5th Convention in July,supports this position.
4.Underline the responsibility that the EU members who are participating in the bombardment of Syria have to accommodate the main number of refugees.It is a shame to see that the USA has taken in only 10.000 refugees from Syria.Pressure must be excersised on them .
5.If nothing works then Greece and Italy could issue travel documents to the refugees in our respective countries and proceed to deliver them,by ship, to the previously mentioned countries and to other countries of the EU who,until now have refused to take them.
By keeping them against their will in our countries we also reduce the pressure of the warring member states to cease the fighting in Syria.
In conclusion,under present circumstances it seems uncertain as to whether the Schengen Agreement and the Dublin 2 agreement can continue to function,also if we take into consideration the general dissolution of the EU and its lack of leadership.