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Fusing #Culture in #Greece’s refugee bomb. What the Nomination of #Lesvos for #European Capital of Culture in 2021 revealed 

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…. But life kept flourishing on this blessed land always, despite the difficulties and the agony of the neighboring wars . Pain was transformed to hope in this place, loss was soothed by the solidarity of the society’s heart, and survival struggle was empowered by the inspiration the nature of this isle evokes, day and night by its unprecedented beauty, to common people, as well as artist, philosophers, religious persons and philanthropists throughout the years .

And , truly , this is what the aim of a European Capital of Culture is supposed to be .

“ Do you plan to assimilate the refugees that are going to stay in the island …..”

Go to  our Greek to me ! exclusive artice

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National panic in the closed borders’ vast hot spot that is Greece

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Chaos leading to  generalized national panic is the latest  update on refugee crisis in Greece by thousands arriving every day back to Athens from the closed Greek -FYROM border and some more thousands daily sent from the islands to Piraeus and then Athens, while the country realises that not only European solidarity  is a illusion, but more dramatically, that sharing of the refugee burden has proved to be a utopia itself .
“Greece becoming a vast camp”, Peter Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative for International Migration tweeted on Wednesday .
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced in Parliament  that from now on Greece “will not assent to agreements” unless all its partners are forced to participate proportionately in the relocation and resettlement of refugees.
The management of the refugee crisis by Europe has been disappointing,
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday in an address in Parliament, and urged European Union countries to honor the bloc’s decisions on sharing the burden of the  crisis, warning that  that if they did not, Athens would block future agreements.

Alexis Tsipras made clear that

“Greece will not agree to deals (in the EU) if a mandatory allocation of burdens and responsibilities among member countries is not secured.”

“Some don’t realize that the common rules either apply to all or they don’t exist,” he said. “Also, agreements are either implemented by all or they don’t exist. It’s shameful for the decisions taken by the EU heads of state to be annulled by some sub-gatherings,” he said, noting Greece will demand its partners “to act responsibly”.

“We will not allow Greece to become a warehouse of souls,” he said.

Addressing worries that flow restrictions at the northern border could swell the number of migrants stranded in Greece, Tsipras said he would meet political party leaders to form a common stance before an early March summit of EU leaders on the migration crisis.

 

NATO to send illegal migrants back to Turkey

Migrants rescued by NATO vessels in the Aegean Sea will be returned to Turkey, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said early Thursday after the military alliance finalized an operation to monitor the smuggling networks that help people reach Greece.

“In case of rescue of persons coming via Turkey, they will be taken back to Turkey,” Stoltenberg added.

NATO vessels arrived in the Aegean last week, and are carrying out reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities, the NATO chief said, adding that the alliance is also establishing direct links with the European Union‘s border agency Frontex.

Participating NATO vessels can operate in Greek and Turkish waters, but Ankara and Athens have agreed not to send forces into each others‘ waters or airspace, Stoltenberg said. The two sides are embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute.

He noted that NATO is uniquely placed to facilitate the cooperation and exchange of information between Greece and Turkey, as both countries are members of the alliance, while only Greece is in the EU.

Stoltenberg‘s comments came hours before a meeting Thursday of EU interior ministers in Brussels to discuss joint efforts to curb the migrant inflow.

On Wednesday, Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel  agreed to intensify efforts to implement EU decisions and start NATO operations in the Aegean Sea immediately to counter smuggling networks to reduce migrant inflows, while hours earlier,  Angela Merkel had a telephon conference with President Obama, and as well Francois Hollande  and David Cameron, where the four of them  agreed they were firmly committed to the Nato migration mission, noting the importance of Greece and Turkey working together and with the international community to ensure the mission’s success.

Four vessels under German command, including personnel from Canada, Greece and Turkey, were rerouted last week from another part of the Mediterranean Sea, according to NATO officials.

NATO agreed two weeks ago to help combat the flow of migrants to Europe in response to a request by Turkey, Greece and Germany. But work to agree the details of the operation ran into difficulties after Ankara signalled reluctance to take back anyone rescued at sea.

 

sources:: ANA- MPA ,europeonline

 

 

 

Dear ex-soviet #EU countries, you obviously miss your #fences…

Spokesperson for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship of European Commission Tove Ernst, also, stressed at a press conference:

“Any action to the FYROM border will be undertaken in cooperation with the Greek authorities and Frontex”.

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The next impenetrable razor-wire border fence in Europe should be built on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria’s borders with Greece, according  Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the AP wrote.

Orban says it’s necessary because “Greece can’t defend Europe from the south” against the large numbers of refugees pouring in, mainly from Syria and Iraq”.

The plan adds another physical barrier between Greece and countries used as passage for asylum seekers and migrants to Europe’s 26-nation passport-free travel region, the Schengen zone,  that is considered one of the European Union’s most cherished achievements. But it is the countries that are newer members to the European Union, and that are just recently enjoying what it means to  be in a free Western zone, actually what it means to be the West, in modern and older political civilization, and live without borders as a European citizen …

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Turkey Arrests Journalist Documenting Syria’s Horrors

Last month, Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss concerns that Turkish border officials were harassing journalists crossing between…

Source: Turkey Arrests Journalist Documenting Syria’s Horrors

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Children taken from their mothers on refugee boats

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Shifts of the route towards smaller islands are the firsr results of Frontex and NATO presence in the Aegean

Are you Syrious Organizaion posted noted on its facebook page today,  that yesterday, the highest refugees arrival rate of the last 40 days occured on  Greek islands, and  presented the figures.

The Mayor of Lesvos Spyros Galinos, confirmed, talking to Greek media today that arrivals of the last couple of days exceed the number of 1500 daily, which is huge for this season of the year , he noted

Meanwhile the Greek Prime Minister finds himself in the middle of the refugee storm talks with the European leaders at the Migration EU summit, without the presence of Ahmet Davutoglou, though , who  cancelled his trip to Brussels due to Ankara terorist attack, two days earlier .

Are You Syrious?’s post 6 hrs

#GREECE‬: Yesterday, 4,611 new refugees were registered on the Greek islands, which was a significant increase and represents the highest arrival rate since 9 January. Yesterday’s arrivals include

  • 2,091 refugees on Lesvos,
  • 1,264 on Chios,
  • 652 on Leros,
  • 300 on Samos,
  • 68 on Kos and a smuch as
  • 223 on Southern Dodecanese.

By 9PM today, at least 634 people have landed on Lesvos shores, more than 1,000 have arrived to Chios , while 20 refugees have arrived to Kos last night, including a pregnant woman whose amnion broke right when she arrived on the island and a cesarian had to be made. She and her baby are fine.
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Today at 3 o’clock in the morning, the Greek Coastguard attempts to stop a new boat from reaching the coast of Lesvos resulted in a havoc and the boat almost crashed on sharp rocks near Skala Sykamia. The tragedy was prevented at the last moment by the intervention of the rescue boat belonging to the team ‘Sea Rescue’.

  • Apart from usual landing sites, refugee crisis has hit the small island of ‪#‎Kastellorizo‬, where more than 700 refugees have landed in the past 48 hours, many of them already sleeping in the open as island’s facilities have a maximum capacity of 500 refugees.
  • Additional 153 refugees have landed on ‪#‎Ro‬ island yesterday, where there are no solidarity groups or any other support.

If refugees continue arriving at this rate, all of them won’t be able to board the ferry towards Athens when it arrives on Friday. According to reports from the ground, the Greek Coast Guard and police are overwhelmed as people continue to arrive.

Turkish coast guard has prevented some crossings to the island this morning, but wasn’t able to stop all of them.According to some opinions, shifts of the route towards smaller islands are the firs result of Frontex and NATO presence in the Aegean, creating more dangerous route for the refugees instead of helping them.

 

 

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#NATO officers at Mytilene Port, Lesvos, February 16, 2016 Photo by Laura Lizancos, via Information Point Volunteers Lesvos, fb

 The smugglers’ warning

Earier this week smugglers have warned NATO and Frontex won’t stop them, and that they have their plan B’s on the sea routes to successfully continue carrying refugees to Greece

 

 

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Turkey is  Sinking the boats, say the refugees

Volunteer voices from Lesvos denounce that Turkish Costgard is sinking refugee boats

On International Volunteers Lesvos – Refugee Crisis, Nili Lowicz-Darby posted , 5hrs

A message just received that a Boat of refugees north north west of Karakos, Lesvos is in Turkish waters and it is “confirmed that Turkish coastguard are hosing the boat with water jet” which means they are sinking the boat using water cannon, a boat of refugees of which at least one third will probably be children and babies.

 

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Greek media:  Children were taken from mothers by Turkish Coast Guard among attempts to sink their boat

According to Local News reports two Syrian refugee women made a complaint to Greek port authorities and humanitarian organizations upon their arrival on the island of Lesvos on Thursday February 18th morning, that a Turkish coast guard vessel took several children from a boat where they were together with their parents and took them back to Turkey.

Furthermore, that the coastguard officer attempted to sink the boat while it was sailing in Turkish territorial waters.

According to eye-witnesses, Omar Sindu, refugee from Syria:

«The Turkish coast guard patrol boat took the children and some other passengers form the boat. Several passengers resisted because they did not want to return to Turkey. Then the Turkish coast guard tried to destroy the boat, in an effort to force the passengers to get on the coast guard boat. But the boat increased speed and managed to escape.

We are later rescued by a Greek boat that took us to Lesvos.”

Accoding to the Greek media reports the UN High Commission for Refugees is informed and trying to reunite the two families.

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Aegean Borders by greek2m.org

 

 

 

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#NATO officers arrived in Lesvos, flotilla expected tomorrow, while #smugglers warn they won’t be stopped

Smugglers: NATO won’t disrupt our networks

People smugglers in Turkey have told Sky News NATO’s warships will not be able to stem the flow of migrants and refugees heading across the Aegean Sea to Europe, or disrupt their networks.

 

Mohammed has been involved in the human smuggling trade for the last two years.

He said to Sky News, the gangs are too well organised and there’s too much money involved for it to be halted.

“The smuggling will not stop – as long as people want to be smuggled the smuggling networks will continue to operate,” Mohammed told Sky News.

“Turkey has tried to stop it but we the smugglers are well prepared and are always one step ahead.

“We don’t bribe the police but if one policeman or two finds out about our operations they will come to the smuggler and tell him we know what you are doing – then the smuggler will bribe him with a few hundred dollars.”

NATO says its mission will not be involved in rescuing migrants, or turning their flimsy crafts around and away from Europe.

 

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The German supply ship Bonn, which will lead the Nato flotilla heading for the Aegean Sea Photograph: Ingo Wagner/AP

 

 NATO ships expected to arrive on February 19th

Defence ministers from the 28 countries in the US-led military alliance agreed in principle to the mission and have asked officials to look at a variety of options for establishing patrols along the Turkish and Greek coasts and other smuggling routes. Several member states have offered to send reinforcements to the three-ship mission.

The Nato intervention is justified as an attack on human traffickers,

US defence secretary Ashton Carter explained. “There is now a criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people and this is an organised smuggling operation.”

The NATO ships have been ordered to the Aegean to begin the mission “without delay”, and are expected to be in place on Friday, even though the details of their role are still being filled in, said US air force general Philip Breedlove.

“This mission has literally come together in about the last 20 hours,” Breedlove told journalists. “I have been tasked now to go back and define the mission, define the rules of engagement, define all of what we call special operation instructions, all of the things that will lay out what we are going to do.”

He declined to comment on whether the Nato crews would join local coastguards in rescuing migrants whose boats had sunk or were failing.

The Bonn patrol

Nato has sent a patrol of three warships to intercept migrants trying to reach Greece by sea and send them back to Turkey, as Europe steps up efforts to contain the refugee crisis.

The Nato flotilla will be led by the German navy’s flagship, the Bonn, supported by Turkey’s frigate Barbaros and the Canadian frigate, Fredericton.

The German-led patrol will be backed by planes that can monitor the flow of people attempting illegal crossings.

Greece and Turkey have agreed that any migrants they intercept will be sent back.

“They will not be taken back to Greece. The aim of the group is to have them taken back to Turkey. That is the crucial difference,” said the British defence secretary, Michael Fallon.

“This is the first time we have seen a group tasked with returning migrants. That has not happened before. So that is quite an important development.”

The UK does not have any ships involved but is looking at how it could contribute, Fallon told journalists after a meeting of defence ministers in Brussels, where the plan was hammered out.

“It could definitely help save lives in the Aegean and it could help break the criminal gangs that are trafficking migrants from Turkey into Europe,” he added.

The NATO alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, initially denied that the ships would try to stop people from crossing into Europe. “This is not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” he said.

Germany’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, had already indicated she favoured a far more robust approach and had secured Ankara’s permission to send some refugees back to Turkey, the Deutsche Welle newspaper reported.

the smugglers network

For Turkey and its smugglers, the flow of people is big business. Each dinghy crammed full of desperate people is estimated to generate €50,000, the middleeastmonitor.com writes.

At night, when busses fill up far away from the coast in Turkey, the smugglers are let through depending on the fluctuating regulations, to make good business sense the article adds.

“The government cracks down on certain crossings, changing the flow of refugees to Lesvos; at the moment the refugees arrive on the north coast of the island. The Turkish government had a crackdown on smugglers from Izmir aiming for the south of Lesvos, an hour-long, lethal journey with faulty lifejackets and dinghies in choppy waters, so they find themselves capitalising instead on the five times longer and thus five times more dangerous route to arrive on the north coast. People have to pay €1,500 to risk their lives crossing the Aegean on a good day (many times more expensive than an official, and safe, ferry); when it is windy the charge is €500 or €700 at night, when the chance of survival decreases. This is how the smugglers capitalise on the status of extremely vulnerable people fleeing from war.”

Greece out of Schengen , not the solution

Excluding Greece from the passport-free Schengen area will not solve Europe’s migrant problem, EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday after meeting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens.

“Let me be clear, excluding Greece from Schengen solves none of our problems,” Tusk told reporters

Council President acknowledged the crisis was testing European cohesion to its limits.

“For all those talking of excluding Greece from Schengen, thinking this is a solution to the migration crisis, I say no, it is not.

Visit our Aegean Borders Special Page on greek2m.org

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Aegean Borders by greek2m.org

 

 

 

 

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Koulouri Must in Comics and reality  

12715402_1769574726606059_6458935347251103188_n12717342_1769574733272725_4053228784298593974_nKoulouri is a comics magazine, small in size, simple, funny, and with a good measure of absurdity dipped in illustrator and cartoonist Tomek Giovanis’ own reality.

But what is Koulouri about? have you tasted , first of all ?

In Greek reality, for most of the living generations Koulouri has become more than daily routine. They have it at school, in the office, on the road, in the cinema, wherever…

Truth is, wherever you find it don’t miss it . It worths the taste, the absolute traditional Greek Street trend eperience, but most of it… the energy you get isntantly by the sesame seeds super-dose that Koulouri holds since some centuries in Greece, and has nourished the minds and bodys of the day. All the country around

Source: Koulouri Comics by Tomek Giovanis

koulouri on the streets photos, by Growing Up Greek Style fb

the Greek to me team

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#Turkey in, #Greece out of #Schengen option, plus #NATO patrols

 

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Alexis Tsipras answered to Angela Merkel via phone call, on her way back to Germany from Turkey, where she visited for a second time in less than ten days.

Through the international News, the Greek government had the chance to know, as official Greek government sources said, that Angela Merkel proposed to the Turkish Leaders the NATO ships patrols in the Aegean seas between Turkey and Greece.

On Monday February 8, Angela Merkel visited Turkey , second time in less than 10 days, and met with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayipp Erdogan to discuss the refugee issue.

Among the series of measures that aim to tackle illegal immigration,on which the two parts made a commitment,  the idea of deploying NATO ships to patrol the seas between Turkey and Greece, was also included in the talks, the Handelsblatt wrote .

Greece answered that even though Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had met with Angela Merkel and Ahmet Davutoglu in London last week , no such idea had been expressed to the Greek side.

The Greek Prime Minister firmly answered that

however NATO would be involved, this would be inside the Turkish sea territory , and that Greece’s sovereignty on its sea borders and water territory is undoubtful and undiscussable .

Ms. Merkel said in Turkey that part of a joint strategy would also be to provide a way for people to legally leave Turkey for Europe. Arrivals in Europe would be “controlled, legal and organized by us,” Merkel said, the Handelsblatt wrote .

But  Greece is asking for a safe corridor for refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and immediate readmission to Turkey of those not seeking asylum or refuse voluntary return, as Greek Alternate Interior Minister said Monday February 8 night on a tv interview.

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Schengen Visa free: Turkey in , Greece out

While Greece is alarmingly threatened to be seriously kicked out of the Europe’s free Schengen zone , Ahmet Davutoglu last week was delighted to announce that the government of Turkey has accepted the deal from the European Union to help stop the flow of refugees to Europe.

This, to be noted, happened  after months of negotiations and deals, which include $3.2 billion in cash and, amongst other benefits a visa-free travel for Turkish passport holders to countries in Europe’s Schengen zone, option , as it is recently announced, on the same moments that Schengen Zone is threatening Greece, by accusations to Greece that it is not fulfilling its obligations.    

By this option on the table, and the 3 billions plus, that Turkey purchased from Europe, Ahmed  Davutoglu had called the move a “new beginning” in Turkey’s move to join Europe,” talking to reporters on January 31.

”Today is a historic day in our accession process to the EU. I am grateful to all European leaders for this new beginning.”

With 2.5 million Syrian refugees already in Turkey and tens of thousands amassed at the border fleeing Russian and Syrian bombings in Aleppo, Ankara is now Europe’s key partner in solving the refugee crisis, the Handelsblatt wrote a week after, on February 8, 2016, adding that

Chancellor Angela Merkel knows that, which is why she is making her second trip this week in less than four months to Turkey. 

As Angela Merkel had promised to the Turkish leaders since her earlier trip to Turkey, today it was announced that

 The E.U. also agreed to ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens and to revive stalled talks on the country’s accession to the 28-nation bloc.

as Handelsblatt wrote on February 9, adding that in return, the Turkish authorities were supposed to crack down on smuggling gangs and work to reduce the flow of refugees into Greece.

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