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The European Commission calls for investigation into the causes of the tragedy near Farmakonisi

24 January 2014 / 18:01:49  GRReporter
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Maria S. Topalova

    The tragedy near the east Aegean Farmakonisi island that killed 12 illegal immigrants, the majority of whom were women and children, was officially discussed at the informal meeting of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the European Union, which had been held in Athens over the past two days. "I do not know what happened on Farmakonisi because I was not there. You were not there either. We have to wait and see the results of an independent investigation into the causes of the tragedy," said Anna Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs of the European Union.
    The tragedy had taken place at the end of last week and survivors of the incident came to Athens yesterday, stating, while crying, that the Greek coast guard had intentionally caused the overturning of the boat and had even impeded the rescue of drowning women and children. This is not the first time that the Greek coast guard has been accused of such actions.


    "The only independent institution that can carry out such an investigation is the independent Greek justice and it is already doing so. I cannot explain why the surviving illegal immigrants changed their testimony as they had stated before the authorities that the coast guard had rescued them and before television cameras that the officers had drowned their families," said Minister of Merchant Marine Miltiadis Varvitsiotis. He expressed regret and condolences for the tragedy near Farmakonisi on behalf of the Greek Presidency, adding, "The first command to the coast guard is to guard the borders of Greece. The second is to prevent loss of life."
    Surprisingly, the escape from prison of one of the most bloodthirsty Greek terrorists Christodoulos Xiros did not draw the interest of Greece’s European partners. However, the U.S. State Department has officially stated that it is in daily contact with the Greek authorities and calls for the immediate detection and arrest of Xiros who has several life sentences for five murders and six attempted murders. Because of the fear of another terrorist attack related with the Greek Presidency of the European Union, the meetings within its contexts are taking place in conditions of extraordinary security measures, which are similar to those that Greece took only during the Olympics 10 years ago.
    Otherwise, the fight against terrorism is one of the priorities of the Union in 2014-2020. Commissioner Malmström announced that over 1,000 European Muslims had left for Syria to fight in the civil war there, some of them being old acquaintances of the secret services. "Terrorism in the European Union is internal, it has religious roots but also right-wing roots, as was the case, here in Greece, of the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas," she said.


    "I cannot comment on whether Golden Dawn is a criminal organisation or not because the Greek justice deals with this and any opinion expressed by me will interfere in its work. But I want to remind you that my signature stands under the warrant for the arrest of its deputies," said Minister of Citizen Protection Nikolaos Dendias. According to him, there is a close link between illegal immigration and terrorism, which takes advantage of it.
    For the first time the Ministers of Interior and Justice discussed the option of directing the illegal immigrants to other countries instead of keeping them in the first EU country entered by them. This proposal of the Greek side was appreciated by the representatives of Germany. In addition to illegal immigration, the ministers had considered legal immigration too, as announced by Minister of the Interior Yiannis Michelakis. He explained that a more liberalised procedure for granting legal permission to stay and work for people from third countries is being developed. This liberalised procedure will go along with measures to prevent and fight xenophobia and racism in European countries. Simultaneously, it will also promote the best practices for the integration of foreigners in local communities.

Tags: Tragedy near FarmakonisiAnna Cecilia MalmstroemEuropean CommissionNikos DendiasGreek justiceMiltiadis VarvitsiotisMinisters of Justice and Home Affairs
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