NEWS

Friction between Athens and Berlin over passenger checks at airports

TAGS: Diplomacy, Travel

The decision by German authorities to increase security checks of passengers arriving from Greece at airports around the country appears to have cast a shadow over relations with Berlin. 

However, despite the public acrimony over the “humiliating” treatment reserved for travelers from Greece at German airports, the government has sought to downplay the issue and denied on Tuesday that its decision to tighten checks on German travelers landing at Greek airports was a tit-for-tat response.

Instead they said it was taken in accordance with articles of the Schengen Agreement. 

Athens took the decision for tighter checks after it emerged last Thursday that a 35-year-old Islamist terrorist suspect had managed to board a flight from Germany to Greece on October 11 and then vanish without a trace. 

Despite the rising tensions, Kathimerini understands there have been substantial behind-the-scenes efforts to defuse the situation.

In this context, there will be a tripartite meeting on Wednesday between experts of the European Commission, Greece and Germany to discuss the checks and improve Greek-German cooperation.

According to Commission representative Natasha Berto, Greece and Germany are working close to resolve their differences, while other EC sources said that good cooperation between the two countries is key to defuse the situation. 

Germany has cited security concerns for the measures which took effect on November 12 and a source in the German Interior Ministry told Kathimerini that they were justified because a random sample of checks from airports around the country showed that 1,000 people had arrived illegally from Greece – a marked difference compared to illegals coming from other countries. 

Moreover, tighter security is also linked to the measures by German authorities in anticipation of the holiday season. 

A European Commission spokesman told Kathimerini on Monday that Germany was among the countries on October 11 and 12 that informed Brussels they were reintroducing internal border checks due to security concerns for a six-month period as of November 12, citing Article 25 of the Schengen Agreement. 

According to the Schengen Agreement, citizens of signatory countries can move freely between those states without border checks. 

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