NEWS

Brussels gives Greece two weeks to tighten borders

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy, Migration

The European Commission on Tuesday gave Greece two weeks to determine how it plans to tighten control of its borders, noting that although progress has been made, the process of registering thousands of migrants streaming through the country remained inadequate.

The Commission criticized an action plan submitted by Athens, noting that it lacked “detailed time frames” for fixing problems. It also demanded guarantees that European Union funding for migration will be used properly.

“The Commission requests that Greece provide the additional elements and clarifications by 26 April,” it said in a statement which acknowledged Athens had made “significant progress.”

If Greece fails to take remedial action, Brussels could authorize other EU member-states to extend border controls in the Schengen passport-free area for up to two years instead of the normal six months.

Such a scenario would effectively suspend Greece’s participation in the Schengen zone.

In a related development on Tuesday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov accused Greece of wasting EU funding allocated for tackling the refugee crisis and declared that hundreds of people were using Greek refugee camps as bases from which to organize attempts to breach Greece’s border with Bulgaria.

“Refugees in Greece are gathering in groups of 1,000 to 2,000 and planning to invade our border,” Borisov told the Bulgarian Parliament. He added that conditions at Greek processing centers for refugees were “horrific.”

“They are so inhumane that refugees often want to leave them,” he said, adding that conditions at similar camps in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which shares borders with both Greece and Bulgaria, “are very good.”
“They even have playgrounds for children,” he said.

In his speech, Borisov accused Athens of wasting EU money. “Even with millions of euros – more than 700 million euros – they have been unable to present any concrete action,” he said.

By late on Tuesday night there had been no official Greek response to Borisov’s tirade, which comes ahead of scheduled talks on the refugee crisis between the foreign ministers of Greece, Bulgaria, FYROM and Albania in Thessaloniki on April 21 and 22.

Greek diplomatic sources sought to play down the significance of the comments, underlining the leader’s unpredictable nature.

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