Greece intends to reinforce border patrols, move asylum-seekers from its islands to the mainland and speed up deportations in an effort to deal with a resurgence in migrant flows mostly from Afghanistan, using Turkey as a transit country.
The government’s Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence convened on August 31 for an emergency session after the arrival this week of more than a dozen migrant boats carrying around 600 people, the first simultaneous arrival of its kind in three years.
The increase in arrivals has caused an additional pressure on Greece’s overcrowded island camps, all of which are operating at least twice their capacity.
Moria camp on the island of Lesbos (Greece) – a facility where conditions have been described by aid organizations as inhumane – is also holding the largest number of people since the deal between the EU and Turkey was agreed.
The government said it would move asylum-seekers to mainland facilities, increase border surveillance together with the EU border patrol agency Frontex and NATO, and boost police patrols across Greece to identify rejected asylum seekers who have remained in the country.
Greece urged crowds of illegal migrants who have gathered in the fields along the country’s northern border to return to their initial settlements, otherwise they could face sanctions. (Photo above: illustration).
Migrants equipped with smartphones started to arrive at a field next to a camp of Diavata near the border with Northern Macedonia on April 4.
By April 5 morning there were more than 100 tents pitched in the field, presumably provoked by spread via social media information of plans for an organized movement to cross Greece’s northwest land border with Albania in early April. There were children seen among migrants, who showed up next to the border.
In Athens, a group of some dozens of migrants squatted on the tracks of the capital’s main railway station shouting “Germany!” and “Open the borders.” Several more were at the station under heavy police presence.
Greek Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas appealed to the migrants at the border to return to the accommodation centers.
“It’s a lie that the borders will open,” he told Greek state television ERT. “In international treaties, there are obligations but there are also sanctions”.
Mr.Vitsas expressed hope that those who came to the border upon their own initiative would leave by night, without any risking further escalation.
Social media has already reported clashes between marching migrants and Greece police.
Two rare jaguars (Panthera onca) have been killed earlier this month after the escapade in Attica zoo near Athens. The animal rights groups are indignant about the incident, demonstrating the utter disregard of life of rare spices.
The incident happened earlier in December but it was only revealed through an announcement by the Attica Zoological park this week.
According to the announcement, the two big cats, named Jenny and Spotty, escaped their controlled area, triggering the security protocol.
The announcement says that there was no danger to visitors and the staff during the incident, but it does not specify exactly how the two animals escaped.
“While every effort is made to prevent the escape of potentially deadly animals, it is impossible to predict all possible circumstances, and occasionally, such animals do manage to leave their enclosures, causing a very real risk of injury or death to people in the vicinity” said the text of the statement signed by David Williams-Mitchell Director of Communications of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
The explanation of the killing given was that anesthesia cannot be effective with such animals has raised outrage in social media. Many Greek animal rights activists users cited the incident at a New Orleans zoo in July when a vet team sedated a jaguar that had escaped from its habitat and killed six animals.
Jaguars have the strongest bite force of all cats and they kill their prey by biting through the skull. They enjoy a good dip and are excellent swimmers. In fact, they typically live near water and have a taste for aquatic creatures. (Video above).
Russian Foreign Ministry had summoned Greece’s ambassador to Moscow and informed him it was responding in kind to what it called an unfriendly decision by Athens to expel two Russian diplomats.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Greek Ambassador Andreas Friganas and handed him a diplomatic note informing him of “tit-for-tat measures taken by the Russian side.”
Previously Greece officials said they had expelled two Russian diplomats in July and barred two other people from entering the country for trying to bribe officials and foment demonstrations to thwart a deal to allow Macedonia to join NATO.
A Pakistani migrant was arrested for trying to set fire near the military camp of Perama. The arrest has been confirmed by the local police.
Perama is an area with a high concentration of refugees. The migrant was arrested and interrogated after being charged and prosecuted with arson. Local police confirmed to our reporter that a Pakistani migrant has been arrested in the area.
The first information of the Local webpage epirus gate says that the perpetrator denies all charges and was just ‘working in the area’.
The heat of the Greek summer and the strong blowing winds could lead to a massive destruction as the military camp of Perama houses military equipment.
“We have serious indications and significant signs suggesting the criminal actions of arson,” said Civil Protection Minister Nikos Toskas during press-conference.
Greece decided to eject Russian diplomats under the pressure from the European Union and the US in order to favor its partners ahead of the NATO summit, said Igor Pshenichnikov, expert for the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, TASS agency reports.
“It is clear that Greece’s authorities made the decision to expel Russian diplomatic staff members under the pressure of their advisers from Brussels and Washington. This is a gift that Alexis Tsipras made for the NATO summit,” he said, answering the question on why it was done now, as the country had not expelled Russian diplomats following the Skripal poisoning case. “Any excuse can be found, and it is not worth talking about. May it weigh on the conscience of Greece’s current authorities.”
“Of course, it is being done for a reason. Bad relations with Russia are a condition for Tsipras’ good relations with Washington and Brussels. This is obvious,” the expert said.
The Western countries do not quite like benevolent relations between Athens and Moscow both at the official level and between ordinary citizens, Pshenichnikov continued. “All of this definitely irritates both Brussels and Washington. We know that the Americans are constantly instructing the Greeks, so to say, to scale back Russian-Greek cooperation both at the official level and at the level of public diplomacy and creating obstacles all the time,” the expert concluded.