06. Dezember 2015 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „Greece to set up island screening centres to ease refugee crisis“ · Kategorien: Europa, Griechenland · Tags:

Quelle: The Guardian

Threat of suspension from Schengen zone prompts Athens to publish surprise legislation that opposition says will kill tourism on Aegean islands

Greece has enacted emergency legislation to facilitate the registration of the large number of refugees entering the country days after seeking help to reinforce its borders from the EU.

Deflecting withering criticism that it has not done enough to deal with the crisis, the government unveiled plans to establish five hotspots, or screening centres, on outlying Aegean islands where some 660,000 migrants and refugees have arrived this year.

The law, published in the government gazette early on Saturday, took many by surprise. Local authorities on islands such as Kos have long claimed the establishment of such centres will only attract more refugees.

In a strongly worded statement, the Kos branch of the main opposition conservative New Democracy party said the decision would lead with “mathematical precision” to the destruction of the island’s tourist industry.

Greece was reportedly threatened with suspension from the passport-free Schengen zone last week following mounting EU dissatisfaction with its inability to control its borders and its management of migrant reception centres. In a letter to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, the bloc’s health commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said he had been appalled by conditions on Lesbos, where the lack of emergency care was such that babies were dying of hypothermia.

The threat caught Athens’ leftist-led government off-guard but also appears to have goaded it into action: Saturday’s surprise move came less than 24 hours after European interior ministers met to discuss the measures now needed to improve the flow of refugees from Greece to the EU.

The northern frontier the country shares with Macedonia has been the site of chaotic scenes since the former Yugoslav republic began erecting a fence and blocking entrance to anyone not deemed to be a migrant from a conflict zone.

“The possibility of being kicked out of Schengen set off alarm bells,” said one well-placed insider. “With the country’s economic crisis it would have sent a terrible signal to investors.”

Extra guards from Europe’s border agency, Frontex, and emergency supplies are expected to arrive in Greece this week. Under EU legislation usually enacted to cope with natural disasters, officials said tents, generators and other equipment would be flown in to help Greece accommodate people over the winter.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ coalition, in power with the small rightwing Independent Greeks party, denied it had previously rejected the offer of the assistance.

Despite Turkey’s promise to stem the flow of refugees and migrants to Greece following a landmark agreement between Ankara and the EU last week, busloads of new arrivals continued on Sunday to make their way to the Macedonian frontier.

“Tensions have eased a bit but they are still coming,” Alexandros Voulgaris, an official with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, based in Idomeni said. “Only today 1,500 arrived here. They all want to continue their journey [through the Balkans] into Europe.”

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