The EU Ambassadors meeting
The Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe is going to be closed, EU leaders will declare today Monday at their summit with Turkey in Brussels, diplomats and officials said over the weekend, after a meeting on Sunday, the news site POLITICO revealed.
Their statement — to be approved by leaders today, Monday March 7— was discussed by EU ambassadors on Sunday afternoon.
“Irregular flows of migrants along the Western Balkans route are coming to an end; this route is now closed,”
according to a copy of the document obtained by the news site .
Der Standard leak
Two days earlier aslo, the Austrian Newspaper Der Standard claimed it has seen a draft of the communiqué which stated that the Western Balkan route would immediately shut down and Europe would provide the necessary support to Greece to deal with the refugees and immigrants to be stuck in the country.
According to Der Standard, the draft of the communiqué included a readmission agreement with Turkey for immigrants who do not qualify for asylum. Also, Europe would ask Turkey to participate directly and constructively in the control of EU external borders in the Aegean Sea.
Moreover, the draft stated, Der Standard revealed, that the presence of Frontex in Greece would be enhanced, particularly at Greece borders with FYROM and Albania, while among FRONTEX responsibilities would be the proper functioning of the hotspots, where refugees will be registered and being prepared for their relocation to other European countries. EU countries should have done more than they have committed to do at this moment by April 1, as it is stated. According to the same draft, Europol would also participate in the process being also responsible for dismantling the trafficking.
Roadmap to Schengen
According to the Politiko article of Monday 03/07 , the ambassadors’ meeting did not last long and ambassadors also endorsed the aim to “take forward, as a matter of priority all the elements of the Commission roadmap,” according to a diplomatic source, who added that the draft statement was not controversial. The migration roadmap, which was put out on Friday, envisages a series of steps for the return to normality in the Schengen area by December, dismantling the internal border controls reintroduced by some member states.
The new commitment to close the Western Balkan route would end the “wave-through policy” that allowed migrants to cross borders with minimal controls.
Be aware of the other routes
The final statement stresses the need to be aware of other routes that migrants might take if the road running through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia is shut down. There are fears, especially in Rome, that migrants will try to travel north through Albania and across the Ionian Sea to Italy.
This scenario, we have to underline, would be the most nightmarish one for Greece’s tourism, paralizing at most Greece’s tourist attraction at the Western part of the country, the Ionian islands, where most of top world’s celebrities used to trravel especially on summer months .
EU on Turkey’s acceptannce
To help ease the humanitarian strain on Greece, where thousands of migrants are now stuck after borders were closed further to the north, the EU is counting on Turkey’s help.
“I am afraid we could have an intense discussion on that since some are complaining that the EU has been too soft with Ankara,”
said a diplomat.
The summit is intended to address the refugee crisis by making it clear that migrants will be swiftly returned to Turkey and that last year’s “open-door” policy, that made it possible for more than a million people to make their way to Germany, is over.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in his meeting in Ankara with Tusk on Thursday, agreed to step up the return of illegal migrants from Greece as part of a bilateral readmission program with Athens, another official said.
But hours after European Council President Donald Tusk left Ankara last week, Turkish authorities on Friday seized Zaman, the country’s largest opposition newspaper.An agreement at the summit still faces such political hurdles, in particular unease within the EU over a domestic crackdown in Turkey, politiko article notes
SOURCE : POLITICO.