- Greece is under pressure from other EU members on borders
- Country continues to reject Frontex role on its land borders
Greece’s government said it’s coming under pressure from fellow European Union countries to do more to control its own borders, while rejecting a report it was threatened with suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone.
Greece “is getting pressure from some European states, which wrongly think it is feasible to control inflows at the sea borders,” Migration Policy Minister Ioannis Mouzalas told reporters in Athens on Wednesday, responding to press reports that the country has been threatened with expulsion from Schengen. Europe wants to support the Schengen agreement as it is, an EU spokesperson, who asked not to be named in line with policy, said Tuesday.
A Financial Times report on Tuesday that cited unidentified European ministers and EU officials as saying Greece isn’t doing enough to tackle the refugee crisis is “between myth and reality,” Mouzalas said. “We’ve organized ‘return missions,’ for example to Pakistan; they’ve been rejected by the Pakistani state,” the minister said. Programs to send migrants back to Turkey have also failed, he said, citing lack of agreement between European states and the countries migrants would be returned to.
Greece spent 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) from an already overstretched budget on refugee rescues, accommodation, food and health care, before it started receiving European aid, the minister said. More than 600,000 refugees have arrived on the Greek islands so far in 2015, with as many as another 7,000 arriving each day, according to the country’s Coast Guard.
While Greece requested aid from EU border agency Frontex for its sea borders in July, the minister reiterated a government position of refusing to allow Frontex land operations. “Greece has full control of its land borders,” Mouzalas said. “Frontex has no right to operate at Greek land borders or make arrests.”