Green MEPs accuse Greece of setting up 'wall of lies' on immigration
Green European MPs are preparing to launch a petition to freeze funds for countries that perform pushbacks on migrants.
A delegation of Green European MPs criticized Greece on Tuesday for setting up a "wall of lies" to conceal its pushback of migrants back over its borders with the approval of Frontex, the EU agency responsible for preventing smuggling, human trafficking, and terrorism, as well as many other cross-border crimes.
New Democracy, the conservative political party currently heading the government in Athens "is trying to build a different reality" and raising a "wall of lies," according to German MEP Erik Marquardt, speaking at a news conference ahead of a meeting with Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi.
For years, Greece has denied media reports alleging that the country might be involved in pushbacks at sea. Instead, it has accused its neighbor, Turkey, of forcing illegal migrants to cross the border with Greece.
Last June, Athens rejected a UN report claiming that its border surveillance forces had illegally pushed back thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants over the past two years.
However, Dutch Greens MEP Tineke Strik on Tuesday noted that pushbacks are "happening on a systematic scale."
"We have numerous reports from credible sources," Strik said.
The group of Green MEPs also said that the Frontex agency was remaining absent in zones 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 delegation also said the European Commission held sufficient 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 Green delegation decided to launch an EU-wide petition to "freeze funds to countries that are performing pushbacks and make the new migration funds conditional (on) human rights compliance."
Last year, some 3,231 men, women, and children have lost their lives drowning while attempting to reach European shores, with 1,881 in 2020, 1,510 in 2019, and more than 2,277 in 2018, according to data from the UNHCR.
While such a tragedy is staged on an almost daily basis, EU governments are proceeding with their ongoing practice of evading responsibilities and throwing the blame onto one another.
For instance, last April, it was reported that Berlin forcefully evicted Afghan refugees from their houses to put up refugees from Ukraine in their stead.
Meanwhile, many have ironically remained silent on Poland's new anti-immigration wall, which has had severe consequences on the environment.
As for Ukrainian refugees which the UK so dearly welcomed, it is estimated that 50,000 could be made homeless by next year due to ministers' reluctance of renewing a new package of support.