Greece blasts EU vote nixing budget for border protection agency after naked migrants found at Turkey border
Greece criticized the decision before European Parliament For rejecting the budget of the bloc’s Border Protection Agency after nearly 100 naked migrants were found on the country’s border with Turkey.
The United Nations called for an investigation after Greek police said officers found 92 migrants, mostly men from Afghanistan and Syria, completely naked and some with bodily injuries along the Evros river. In posting a picture of the migrants, Greek Immigration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarashi condemned Turkey for forcing them to cross the border, allegations Turkey denied as “fake news”.
This was before EU legislators On Tuesday, it refused to approve the way the European Union’s Border and Coast Guard Agency has used its 2020 budget, due to concerns about serious misconduct by staff and human rights concerns related to Frontex’s work.
In response to the decision, Mitarashi tweeted Wednesday, “Vote against exempting Frontex in EUpar for anyone who wants to come to Europe.”
The comment, which has since been deleted, came in response to a tweet from Dirk Goettenk, a spokesman for the center-right European Parliament’s EPP group, which quoted Dutch politician Jeroen Lenners as saying, “Refusing to fire Frontex is a political game played by those Who do not like Frontex and who are allergic to border management, because they believe that Europe should open the red carpet to everyone who wants to come here.” Mitarashi retweeted the message.
Meanwhile, another video has been circulating on the internet purporting to show Turkish authorities He hit a different group of migrants including women and children along the Evros River who wanted to cross into Greece.
Frontex oversees the external borders of the European Union, which includes 27 countries. The agency is under pressure over allegations of its involvement in pushbacks of illegal migrants, particularly in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey. Its CEO resigned earlier this year after an anti-fraud office investigation.
During a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, Lawmakers voted 345 to 284, with 8 abstentions, not to sign the 2020 Frontex accounts.
“With a budget of 900 million euros ($884 million) in 2022, Frontex is the most well-funded European agency. We can no longer afford to use public funds to violate European legislation and international law,” said Dutch Green MP Bas Eckhout. vote.
The move has no direct legal consequences, but it obliges EU institutions – notably the European Commission – to take measures to address Parliament’s concerns. In similar circumstances in 1999, the entire commission resigned amid corruption allegations.
A report by the European Union’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, examined Frontex’s activities in Greece from spring to autumn 2020 and found that the agency was not properly investigating or dealing with evidence of pushbacks of migrants and at times was trying to cover it up or not report it. them at all.
Forced returns – the forcible return of people across international borders or on land or sea, without assessment of their rights to apply for asylum or other forms of protection – violate international and EU law.
Human rights lawyers, NGOs, media investigations and other entities have long accused the Greek authorities of carrying out violent and deadly push-backs against Migrants and refugees Cross its borders from Turkey.
Frontex has sought to put these allegations behind it. “The agency takes the findings of investigations, reviews, and other forms of audit seriously and uses them as opportunities to make changes for the better,” Frontex said Friday in a statement to The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.