ATHENS: Greece has erected a “wall of lies” to deny it is systematically forcing migrants back over its borders, with the tolerance of EU border agency Frontex, a group of Green European MPs said Tuesday.
The conservative government in Athens “is trying to build a different reality” and raising a “wall of lies”, German MEP Erik Marquardt told a news conference ahead of a meeting with Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi.
Greece has for years denied allegations of systematic, illegal border pushbacks, despite extensive testimony from alleged victims to media and rights groups.
In June, Athens rejected a United Nations report claiming that its border forces had illegally repelled thousands of asylum seekers over the past two years.
But Dutch Greens MEP Tineke Strik on Tuesday insisted pushbacks are “happening on a systematic scale”.
“We have numerous reports from credible sources,“ Strik said.
The delegation, which included Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield of France and Belgium's Saskia Bricmont, also said European Union border agency Frontex was staying out of areas where pushbacks are believed to take place.
“They operate under the command of the Greek authorities. And the Greek authorities decide where (Frontex is) to be operational,“ Strik said.
“But if there are allegations that are very credible, that in certain areas pushbacks are taking place, why don’t you demand to go and have a look?” she said.
The group also argued that the European Commission already had the necessary information to initiate infringement procedures on pushbacks against Greece and Croatia.
The EU’s executive arm “knows what is going on” and is taking a “deliberate decision” not to take further action, Strik said.
The Greens on Tuesday launched an EU-wide petition, calling on the European Commission to “freeze funds to countries that are performing pushbacks and make the new migration funds conditional (on) human rights compliance.” - AFP