As Greece fends off criticism for its handling of a burgeoning refugee crisis, sources in the Hellenic Police and Coast Guard have told Kathimerini that a plan was jointly presented to the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, more than two months ago.
Kathimerini understands that a team of Greek officials visited Frontex headquarters on June 18 and presented a plan for strengthening patrols at sea and on land on Greece’s porous Aegean border with Turkey, a major transit point for refugees from the Middle East trying to reach Europe.
The plan called for officers to be transferred from the Greek police and other European forces to help patrol borders and process arrivals. It also requested fingerprinting equipment and vehicles to speed up identification and transportation on the island of Lesvos, one of the islands bearing the brunt of the influx.
The sources told Kathimerini that although Frontex approved the proposal, it was unable to get other European governments to endorse it. The agency is said to have told Greek officials to start implementing the plan, promising to cover the cost of the Greek police officers’ transfer. It was also suggested that Frontex has already disbursed 100,000 euros to this end, though this was refuted by government sources.
An official at the Ministry for Citizens’ Protection on Thursday said that the issue will be addressed during a visit by Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri to Athens next week.
Meanwhile in a related development, outgoing Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou on Thursday said that she expects Greece to be in a position to receive 30 million euros in European Union funding to deal with the influx within the next few days. She said the agency required by the European Commission to manage the funds is ready but is still waiting for some decisions to be published in the Government Gazette before it can become operational.