Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (News and important new Analysis, 17.2.16)

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- New Statewatch Analysis: “Europe must do more…” Hasn’t it done enough? 20 years of restrictive EU immigration policy have – inevitably - led us to the current situation (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico: A sweeping in-depth analysis:

"The greatest mistake would be to analyse the current situation and try to resolve it by following the same policy principles and approaches which produced it, as the EU is currently doing, by intensifying and militarising them. The current model has been based on restricting “illegal” or “irregular” immigration as absolute policy goals, by portraying the figure of the irregular and illegal migrant,...

a refusal to acknowledge the problems caused by immigration policy, suggest that the only means of tackling this issue with any positive prospects is to stabilise it and analyse its shortcomings and failures, with a view to scaling it down. This may be done by treating immigration policy, rather than the “illegal entry” of third-country nationals which may prove beneficial in the medium/long term, as a “risk factor” or “security threat” which is leading towards authoritarian state power, undermining important and long-established principles which the EU recognises as cornerstones of its project, even as it dismantles them."

- New Greek law to include detention regime in "hotspots"

The Greek Government intends to introduce a new detention regime in the ‘hotspots’ as part of legislative reforms of the country’s first reception framework. The Greek Parliament aims to fast-track the adoption of the law before the end of this month.

Under the new framework, people entering a ‘Reception and Identification Centre’, such as those to be established on the Eastern Aegean islands, will be subject to freedom of movement restrictions within the premises of the centre for an initial period of 3 days.

- Greece: Campaign for the Access to Asylum:
Press release - Invitation to Press Conference: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 5 pm at the Athens Bar Association hall (pdf):

"The organizations participating in the network group “Campaign for the Access to Asylum”, would like to express our deepest concern about the harrowing developments in the political and social context, which lead to the dismantling of the legal acquis concerning the refugee and human rights protection, both in Greece and Europe. Greece is about to implement policies in full and termless compliance with the european imperatives, subverting the up to date existing protection of refugees, as guaranteed by the International, European and National Law...

By sealing of Greek/Turkish border, which results to the refoulement of the refugees, the latter get excluded from their legally established right of protection.

By authorizing the involvement of the NATO forces, the refugee issue is being militarized. This revives distressing memories of the past, by stigmatizing the beneficiary of international protection as a potential enemy."

- UNHCR Daily Report (17.2.16) How will NATO know which boats are "carrying migrants and not refugees"?

"The Greek Defence Minister mentioned in a media interview that NATO ships will send back all boats coming from Turkey carrying migrants and not refugees. He also reiterated that NATO operations will be taking place east of Greece and up to the Turkish shores.

However, during a meeting held on Monday (15 February) between NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, it was agreed that NATO’s presence in the Aegean Sea will not aim at pushing back refugees but rather at providing crucial information and supervising the fight against human smuggling. It is to be noted that five NATO vessels (from Germany, Greece, Italy, Canada and Turkey) are already patrolling the area."

- (News 17.2.16)

Demirtas: EU ignoring Turkey crackdown in bid for refugee deal (euractiv, link): "The European Union is turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Turkey in a doomed bid for a solution to its migrant crisis, the leader of Turkey’s main Kurdish party told a Greek newspaper today."

Closure of Balkan Refugee Route Deepens Rifts in the EU (Global Research, link): "The criticisms from the German government are not directed against the humanitarian consequences of the closure of the Balkan route, but represent an attempt to preserve EU institutions. The German plans for repelling refugees are no less militarized. The plans of Chancellor Merkel to use NATO in sealing off the Aegean also include the illegal rejection of refugees. Such “pushbacks”, as the measures on the high seas are called, would mean that the crossing becomes increasingly dangerous for refugees, leading to a rapid rise in thethe death toll on the Aegean."

Dispatches: What Bulgaria’s “Respect” for Refugees Really Looks Like (HRW, link): "Speaking in the country’s capital, Sofia, Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said Bulgaria had the EU’s support as well as his “personal commitment” as it seeks to police Europe’s outer frontiers.But can Avramopoulos really be confident that Bulgaria will respect migrants' rights in the way he hopes? Its track record suggests not."

Merkel criticises eastern Europe's plan to shut borders (euobserver, link): "German chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday criticised an eastern European proposal to close the Balkan refugee route and promised to push instead for the EU-Turkey plan. "Do we really want to give up already and close the Greek-Macedonian-Bulgarian border?" she asked"

EU-Greece: Juncker: Shutting down Greece border would be illegal (, link): "One day ahead of an EU summit in Brussels to discuss the migration crisis, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that shutting down the Greek border to slow the influx would be illegal and unacceptable. “It would be neither legal nor politically acceptable to cooperate with third countries in order to close the border to one of our member states,” Juncker said in an interview with Germany’s Bild daily."

Anti-migrant vigilantes begin patrols in Norway after Finland (, link): "Norwegian police say a vigilante group calling itself the Soldiers of Odin has made a first appearance in the Scandinavian country amid an influx of migrants.Vestfold Police spokesman Torgny Alstad says about a dozen men dressed in black jackets, adorned with a Viking helmet and the group's name, patrolled the streets of Tonsberg near Norway's capital on Saturday night. He said Monday that officers watched the group but that no incidents were reported. The Soldiers of Odin, who derive their name from a Norse god, was founded last year in Finland where it regularly conducts street patrols."

Turkey unwilling to target refugee traffickers, experts warn (euractiv, link): "Senior experts said today (17 February) that unless Turkey starts targeting the mafias helping migrants cross into Europe, the worsening refugee crisis could push the British to vote to leave the Union, and bring about other disastrous consequences."

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