Question: Situation on the border between Turkey and the EU

In order to be able to exercise my parliamentary control function as a Member of the European Parliament, I have the opportunity to put questions to the European Commission. The Commission must answer these questions.
On 04.03.2020 I asked the Commission the following questions:

Priority question for written answer P-001313/2020 to the Commission

Subject: Situation on the border between Turkey and the EU

Since Turkey's decision to open its borders on Friday 28., the situation on the border between Turkey and the EU has worsened. Officials have reported that a four-year-old Syrian boy died in the waters off Lesbos, and journalists report that a Syrian refugee was shot dead by border guards. In addition, the Greek government has announced a decision to increase deterrence at the border and block new asylum applications for a month. UNHCR estimates that around 1200 people arrived in the East Aegean Islands on 1. 2..

The suspension, albeit temporary, of the right to apply for asylum and any violation of the principle of non-refoulement are illegal under the Geneva Convention, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty on European Union.

1.    Was wird die Kommission tun, um zu gewährleisten, dass die EU und ihre Mitgliedstaaten dem internationalen Asylrecht und dem Asylrecht der EU Rechnung tragen?

2.    Wird sie sich mit der mutmaßlichen Anwendung von Gewalt an der Grenze zwischen der EU und Griechenland befassen, einschließlich des Einsatzes von Tränengas und der exzessiven Anwendung von physischer Gewalt durch Grenzschutzbeamte gegen Asylsuchende?

3.    Welche Maßnahmen wird die EU in Abstimmung mit internationalen Organisationen, einschließlich des UNHCR und der IOM, ergreifen, um den Druck auf die Mitgliedstaaten der ersten Einreise zu mindern?

P-001313/2020

Antwort von Kommissarin Ylva Johansson im Namen der Europäischen Kommission:

Nach Artikel 4 des Schengener Grenzkodexes[1] müssen die Mitgliedstaaten bei der Durchführung von Grenzkontrollen unter Einhaltung der einschlägigen Rechtsvorschriften der Union im Zusammenhang mit dem Zugang zu internationalem Schutz und des Grundsatzes der Nichtzurückweisung handeln.

Die Kommission nimmt alle Vorwürfe über den Einsatz von Gewalt an den EU-Außengrenzen ernst und geht davon aus, dass die griechischen Behörden in sämtlichen Fällen Ermittlungen einleiten. Obgleich die Mitgliedstaaten dafür zuständig sind, zu bestimmen, welche Maßnahmen zur Verhinderung unbefugter Grenzübertritte geeignet sind, muss die Anwendung von körperlicher Gewalt gerechtfertigt und verhältnismäßig sein. Die Kommission unterstützt die griechischen Behörden dabei, Spannungen zu deeskalieren sowie Ruhe und Ordnung an der Grenze wiederherzustellen.

Am 4. März 2020 hat die Kommission einen Aktionsplan für Sofortmaßnahmen zur Unterstützung Griechenlands[2] vorgelegt. Zu den jüngsten Erfolgen der Initiative zählen die koordinierte Umsiedlung von rund 1600 unbegleiteten Minderjährigen aus Griechenland in andere Mitgliedstaaten und die im Rahmen der Maßnahmen zur Eindämmung der Verbreitung des COVID-19-Virus erfolgte Verlegung von 1000 schutzbedürftigen Migranten von Hotspots in lokale Hotels. Darüber hinaus wird der neue Migrations- und Asylpakt Vorschläge für eine weitreichende Solidarität mit den Mitgliedstaaten der ersten Einreise beinhalten. Die Kommission arbeitet in dieser Hinsicht auch weiterhin eng mit internationalen Organisationen zusammen, insbesondere mit der Internationalen Organisation für Migration und dem Hohen Flüchtlingskommissar der Vereinten Nationen, die nach wie vor eine entscheidende Rolle bei der Umsetzung der EU-Hilfsmaßnahmen für Migranten und Flüchtlinge innehaben.


[1] Verordnung (EU) 2016/399 des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 9. März 2016 über einen Unionskodex für das Überschreiten der Grenzen durch Personen (Schengener Grenzkodex)

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/de/IP_20_384

We can't leave anyone behind!

We now need a substantial evacuation of the camps in the Greek islands so that the refugees can protect themselves from the corona virus.

When i arrived in lesbos at the end of february, i did not think that the situation could get much worse. i wanted to spend the week off from sitting here to see how the situation on moria has developed. a camp in europe, where the processing of an application can take over a year and children cannot attend school during that time. a camp where people have been sleeping on the damp ground or in summer tents for four winters.

That people in the EU have to live like this is a disgrace for all of us. the situation here is not so bad because the EU could not organise it better. it is so bad because it is politically desired. it is politically desired that conditions should be so bad because people want to deter. but the aim cannot be that conditions in the camps on the external borders should be worse than in a civil war, just so that no one would think of fleeing to Europe.  

Erdoğans Border opening and right-wing extremists on Lesbos

Unfortunately, I was wrong in assuming that things could hardly get any worse. After Erdoğan announced the opening of the border and suddenly there were a few thousand people on the external border, Greece reacted with violence and simply suspended the basic right to asylum. I have a commissioned a legal opinion which shows that the Greek government has acted unlawfully. The Greek coast guard started shooting towards rubber dinghies full of people instead of rescuing them. Boats were left in distress for hours instead of intervening immediately. A girl drowned trying to get to Lesbos although she could have been rescued.

Right-wing extremists from all over Europe mobilized the mob to Lesbos. on some days more Nazis than refugees arrived on Lesbos. right-wing gangs took over the streets and patrolled the city with iron chains. right-wing extremists could hunt down aid organizations, fugitives and journalists for days on end without the police intervening. one aid facility was even set on fire. the Greek constitutional state simply failed completely there.

The Corona virus is a danger to the people in the Greek camps

And then it got worse again. the corona virus is spreading very fast in europe. the virus does not differentiate by skin colour, religion or gender. while contact bans and curfews are imposed everywhere in europe, here 20,000 people live crammed together in a camp that was built for 3,000 people. for every 1,300 people there is a single tap and even that one is constantly breaking down. you can hardly wash your hands here, let alone practice social distancing. when the corona virus comes to moria, it will not be stopped so quickly.

The Member States have ways of preventing the Corona disaster in overcrowded refugee camps. It is in our interest, after all, not to allow places in Europe where the virus can spread unhindered. The camps must be evacuated quickly, not in spite of, but because of Corona.

#Leavenoonebehind

People must now be given quarantine facilities in places where they are protected from the virus. The Commission must coordinate the process, but Member States must lead the way and support Greece in its fight against the spread of the corona virus. This also requires financial aid, but above all the political will to solve problems instead of always telling us what we cannot do. The Greek mainland needs support in this, as do the people on the Greek islands. For far too long we have let these citizens down.

In order to create more attention for the topic, I have created the campaign "Leave no one behind" It is an initiative which is about citizens from all over Europe standing together in the Corona crisis and standing up for those who need our solidarity. This includes the refugees at our external borders, the homeless, the old and sick. If we do not act now, we will be complicit in the catastrophe which threatens these people.

My current assessment of the situation in Greece

Instead of talking about racist marauding gangs at the external borders, the Greek coast guard refuses to rescue people, attacks rubber dinghies and puts people's lives in danger. Anyone who shares the military rhetoric of "European shield" or an "attack on the EU" or supports the Greek demand for "maximum deterrence" agrees with the right-wing mob and racist violence. Because anyone who says: "We are under attack, violence at the borders is necessary" also says: "Strike, it's only self-defence". The European Commission, the German government and 26 other EU states capitulate to an autocrat with border guard perseverance slogans.

The inhumane policy of the last few days is a gift for Erdoğan. The last few days have shown that only a few thousand fugitives have to stand at the external borders and already fundamental rights and basic human rights are being abrogated. Greece denies people the right to apply for asylum and so far Ursula von der Leyen and most European governments seem to simply tolerate this.

The responsible politicians are overwhelmed by the situation and seriously expect Turkey to take in another million people from Idlib, while at the EU's external border children are being shot at with tear gas so that nobody can claim their right to asylum in the European Union.

There is an alternative to the current chaos and the breach of our European values. We must immediately organise humanitarian aid at the external borders. We must set contingents, evacuate people from the Greek islands in an orderly fashion and then check in various states who is in need of protection and who is not. Only through humanity and order can we find an answer worthy of Europe.

To respond to those seeking protection with violence and military rhetoric is absolutely unworthy of Europe.

For questions and further information please contact our press officer Krsto Lazarević at your disposal.

Humanitarian crisis in Greece: Germany & Europe must offer refugees protection

Click here for the Petition!

A humanitarian disaster is unfolding on the Turkish-Greek border: after the Turkish president Erdoğan opened the border with Greece, thousands of refugees have set out to apply for asylum in the EU. In Greece, the police use violence to prevent people from entering the country. 

the greek government declares deterrence in defence of the eu's external border. at the same time, greece has announced that it will suspend the right of asylum. for months, more than 40,000 people have been waiting in completely overcrowded camps on the greek islands. this situation on the islands is no longer tenable. journalists and aid organisations are being threatened by right-wing groups and the authorities are not protecting them. only a quick response from eu states can prevent further escalation. the federal government must also act quickly. 

What should have happened a long time ago is now all the more necessary: the European Union has a duty to support Greece in dealing with the situation by all means possible. Humanity and order must now be the guiding principles of the EU. This is a European emergency, not a Greek one. If we leave Greece alone now, we will contribute to further suffering, insecurity and instability. 

We therefore call for four immediate measures:

  1. The Federal Government should take in a quota of refugees from Greece and the Aegean islands. If Germany leads the way in Europe, other EU countries will follow more easily, and the goal must continue to be a fair and rapid redistribution of refugees within the EU. 
  2. The Federal Office for Refugees (BAMF) and the Federal Government may no longer block the family reunification of persons seeking protection in Greece with their relatives in Germany. Many refugees in Greece - including many unaccompanied children - have a legal claim to family reunification under the Dublin Regulation. The Federal Republic of Germany is responsible for their asylum procedure and they have to be transferred to their relatives in Germany. 
  3. The right to asylum is a human right: people seeking protection within the EU cannot be deported without an individual examination of their asylum application. The German government and the other EU countries must support Greece in such a way that refugees are registered at the EU's external border and then given access to a fair asylum procedure. Only fair asylum procedures can determine who is in need of protection and who is not. 
  4. Police violence against refugees must stop. tear gas and water cannons only aggravate hardship and do not solve anything. this is not how europe should deal with people seeking protection. journalists, lawyers and NGOs must be protected and must be able to do their important work unhindered. the federal government must work together with the eu to ensure that fundamental rights are respected at all levels. local authorities must enforce law and order instead of tolerating the violent mobs on the greek islands. 

The Turkish President Erdoğan is using the suffering of refugees to exert pressure on the EU. A common European response to this is needed. It is important that we provide humanitarian aid and defend the rule of law in Europe. To this end, let us address this urgent petition with as many signatures as possible to the Federal Government and the European Council: Germany must offer refugees protection!

With European greetings

Erik Marquardt MEP , Sven Giegold MEP, Clara Anne Bünger and Ansgar Gilster

Click here for the Petition

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