Greece is set to remain under pressure from Germany and other European Union states regarding its handling of the refugee crisis and despite setting aside initial reservations this week on the presence of NATO patrols in the Aegean to help combat trafficking.
“We need to see tangible results in the management of external borders within weeks, not months,” a German official speaking on condition of anonymity told Sunday’s Kathimerini, adding that Athens had initially pledged to have five refugee screening centers, or hot spots, ready by November.
Failure to deliver, the official said, could lead to the introduction of internal border controls within the EU’s Schengen area. “And if that happens, it will be very hard to lift them again,” he said.
On Friday, EU states gave Athens three months to remedy “serious deficiencies” in managing its borders or face suspension from Europe’s passport-free travel zone for up to two years.
Also this week, Athens accepted a German proposal for NATO’s rapid reaction naval force to patrol in the Aegean under certain conditions.
In an interview with Kathimerini’s Sunday edition, former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schussel said that Greece is a key player in the management of the refugee crisis and should “have every support from the EU and member-states.”
“What is at stake is restoring law and order at the entrance of the EU’s Schengen zone,” Schussel said, adding that in the matter of safeguarding Europe’s external borders, “Greece will play a key role.”