EU’s border agency deliberately, systematically cooperated with Greece in pushbacks: Report

Fri, 29 Jul 2022 9:43 GMT
EU Commission’s vice president acted more for Greece than as bloc’s senior official, says German magazine Der Spiegel
EU’s border agency deliberately, systematically cooperated with Greece in pushbacks: Report

The European Union’s border agency, Frontex, has deliberately and systematically cooperated with Greece in illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers to Turkish waters, a German magazine reported Thursday. 

Findings of an investigation by OLAF, the bloc’s anti-fraud agency, on the dimension of Frontex’s cooperation with Greece, were revealed by German magazine Der Spiegel, Le Monde newspaper in France, and Lighthouse Reports.

The report said that Frontex, under the administration of Frenchman Fabrice Leggeri, who quit in April under pressure from the European Parliament and rights groups, covered pushbacks by Greece, deliberately lied to the EU parliament, and covered the fact that European taxpayers’ money was used to finance the pushbacks.

The report exposed that Frontex officers did not report the actions in an attempt to not provoke reactions by Greek officials even when they became aware or witnessed illegal pushbacks.

“Incidents were not reported through official channels as Frontex deployed staff feared retaliation by Greek authorities,” it said.

The magazine said the report is “too explosive” so a very limited number of EU officials, apart from European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who was always very critical about Leggeri and Greece’s pushback policy, have read the investigation.

Moreover, EU Commission’s Vice President Margaritis Schinas has acted more for Greece than as the bloc’s senior official, according to the magazine.

“Schinas is a party friend of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis,” it said, adding that he using his influence and developments “as an insider.”

The magazine highlighted that Schinas recently claimed that there was no tangible evidence that the Greek Coast Guard was carrying out pushbacks.

Those allegations came from “NGOs, the press, and the authoritarian regime in Ankara,” he said.

- Greece's illegal pushback policy

Human rights advocates and leading media outlets have frequently reported illegal pushbacks and other rights breaches by Greek authorities that have violated EU and international law.

In addition to seaborne pushbacks, Greek border forces are also accused of apprehending and forcibly expelling migrants who cross into the country by land.

In February, at least 19 migrants were found frozen to death near the Turkish-Greek border after being pushed back to Türkiye by Greece.

Officials in Ankara have criticized Athens for the inhumane and degrading treatment of irregular migrants, saying those who were found dead had been stripped of their clothes and shoes by the Greek border guards.

Greece has denied any involvement.


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