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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
16.2.16
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
New Statewatch Analysis:
Why Turkey is Not a “Safe Country” (pdf) and: Executive Summary (pdf) by Emanuela Roman, Theodore Baird, and Talia Radcliffe:

"This article critiques recent European plans to consider Turkey a ‘safe country’. Based on detailed evidence of developments in Turkey, we argue that Turkey does not fulfil the conditions for being either a ‘safe country of origin’ or a ‘safe third country’. We urge the Commission and Member States to seriously reconsider their designation of Turkey as a ‘safe country’."

Merkel warns against Visegrad’s plans for a ‘reserve border system’ : "German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned yesterday (14 February) against plans for a “reserve border system” devised by the Visegrad Four, the group of countries including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

The leaders of the ‘Visegrad Four’ (also known as V4) are meeting today in Prague for a mini-summit ahead of the 18-19 February EU Council meeting. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was invited, together with the President of Macedonia, to join the Prague meeting.

The Visegrad leaders seek a possible “plan B” in case of a collapse of the Schengen system and in particular an exit of Greece from the group. In particular, they want to make sure that the borders between Bulgaria and Greece and Macedonia and Greece are sealed and effectively stop the migration flows."

and: Are the Visegrad states sealing off the EU? (DW, link): "The Visegrad states want to shut down the Balkan route to refugees. In doing so, they could effectively exclude Greece from the Schengen zone. DW's Christoph Hasselbach looks at the issues." and: V4 PMs adopt Prague Declaration calling for strong Europe (Prague Monitor, link)

and: Davutoglu to meet with 11 ‘like-minded’ EU countries (euractiv, link): "Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has invited the heads of state and government of ten member states to attend a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on 18 February, in Brussels.... This is the third time that Davutoglu is meeting with the so-called “like-minded countries” which appear to be ready to take refugees directly from Turkey by plane. So far the leaders of Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Greece have held two meetings in the Austrian Embassy, in the margins of the last two EU summits. This time, Slovenia, Finland, and Portugal will also join the discussion, so the Turkish Prime Minister will meet a total of 11 member states."

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Pass 84,000; Deaths Reach 410 (IOM, link):

"Greece - An estimated 78,333 migrants or refugees have crossed into Greece since the beginning of 2016. Of these 16,140 arrived in February and 62,193 arrived in January, according to IOM."

At 16.2.16: Arrivals in EU in 2016: 86,320. Arrivals in Greece: 78,333 and in Italy 5,967. 410 dead/,issing (IOM)

News (16.2.16)

Greek minister: Hungary has sent nothing, not even a blanket (euractiv, link): "Athens blamed Hungary for not contributing to the country’s efforts to tackle the refugee crisis and for its “political decision” to help Macedonia build a fence at the Greek border."

Greece will open four ‘hotspots’ in time for EU summit (euractiv, link) and Four of Greece's five 'hotspot' migrant centres ready, says Kammenos (ekathimerini.com, link):"Four of Greece’s five new migrant registration centres are “ready to function and welcome refugee”, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said Tuesday, as Athens comes under intense pressure to control the massive influx to Europe." but UNHCR 15.2.16 report: "On the islands of Kos, Leros, and on the mainland in Thessaloniki, the local community continues to protest against the establishment of hotspot facilities or camp-like settings."

EU-NATO-GREECE-TURKEY: 72 hours to launch NATO’s migrant mission - Officials pulled off the seemingly impossible, to get the Greeks to agree to a Turkish idea.(politico, link): "When the idea first came up on Monday, it seemed unlikely that it would ever come to fruition: A military alliance doing the job of police forces and coast guard agencies; NATO meddling in the EU’s struggle to protect its maritime borders; the Americans getting involved in affairs they see as purely European; and, most importantly, Athens agreeing to an idea that originated in Ankara, when the two governments barely communicate."

Greece: Lesbos opens new cemetery for refugee victims (Euronews, link): "The authorities in Lesbos has set aside a plot of land in a village to bury the dead after the existing cemetery ran out of space."

UNHCR Daily Report: 15.2.16: "On 14 February, the border crossing between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece was briefly closed due to misinformation regarding Austrian authorities allegedly no longer allowing entry to refugees and migrants. The domino effect of border closure along the route, coupled with repeated statements made by Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian officials regarding adherence to similar border controls, would indicate that if German or Austrian authorities introduce limiting entry measures at its borders (or closure), all other governments will follow suite."

Excluding Greece from Schengen won't solve migrant crisis, says Tusk (ekathimerini.com, link): "Excluding Greece from the passport-free Schengen area will not solve Europe's migrant problem, EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday, but acknowledged the crisis was testing European cohesion to its limits."

Austria seeks to curb economic migrants (The Local.at, link): "Austria has announced that it will place six nations including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on its list of "safe countries of origin", as it seeks to curb the number of economic migrants."

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