December 07, 2017
Greeks may have secured the third review and gained credibility, but not when it comes to the refugee crisis and Schengen. Greek travellers have to go through a thorough passport control when travelling to Germany. After Germany and Italy increased their controls in November, Belgium beefed up its controls on airports, too.
Germany's interior ministry says the measures were enforced after authorities documented more than 1000 illegal entries from Greece since the start of the year. They said security measures across the board were being beefed up amid fears of a terror attack during the holiday season.
Whatever the reason, Greek travellers including some MEPs are furious. This is an unilateral suspension of Schengen. Even if you agree that the Greek government handles the refugee crisis badly, the Greeks see themselves as scapegoats once again for a failure that is much more systemic. “After Germany, now Belgium ignores the Schengen agreement and checks us on flights from Greece,” Sofia Sakorafa, one of the MEPs, wrote on Facebook.
The security reasons are real, though, writes Deutsche Welle. With about 60,000 refugees and asylum seekers Greece has become a major hub for human trafficking. Fake passports are promoted openly among refugees, and the EU counter terrorism agency identified forged passports for alleged members of the Islamic State group in the refugee camps. Last year, France offered help to identify the false documents, but Athens refused the request pointing to Turkey instead.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due in Athens on Thursday for a two-day visit, where the uptick of refugee arrivals and Turkey's relations with the EU will be on the agenda. Let's hope that Erdogan's provocative remarks calling for an update of the Treaty of Lausanne, which sets out the modern borders between Greece and Turkey, do not jeopardise the talks.