The issue of refugees is a thorny one these days but Tom’s take on the situation definitely brings into sharp relief the hot potato European Union leaders are faced with.
I don’t know about others, but I (Tom) find routine daily stories about drowned children very distressing. Children (and adults) dying in European waters can not be allowed to continue as “business as usual”. Heroic action by Greek and Turkish fishermen combined with a very strong presence of volunteer medical personnel and other professionals in Lesbos have helped, but every day there is a new tragedy. The headlines are horrific.
The Coast Guard units of both Turkey and Greece are helping rescue unfortunates yet again and again refugee families are packed into flimsy craft and criminally sent to meet their fate in the stormy sea between Turkey and Lesbos. The traffickers would be crazy to join them, so a refugee is shown how to steer the boat and they will be lucky to arrive safe and dry in Europe.
The other day Efimerida Vories Sporades had a story with photos of items washed up on the town beach in Skopelos (!). Take a look here. or paste this link http://efimerida-sporades.blogspot.gr/2015/10/blog-post_475.html into your translator. Giorgo’s story was followed up by the Taxydromos newspaper of Volos.
On October 26 an EU held a “summit” on “The Western Balkans Migration Route” with heads of states or foreign ministers from
Romania, Austria, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary, FYROM, Serbia and Greece as well as
European Parliament President Martin Schultz, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk, Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office Robert Visser, Executive Director of Frontex Fabrice Leggeri, Netherlands Minister for Migration Klaas Dijkoff, European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides.
Greek Prime Minister Alexei Tsipras was upset that Turkey was not invited to the talks and later figured out that the talks were not about solving the problem of drowning children, but simply what to do with the survivors after the families push on from Greece. It appears (to me) that Tsipras was marginalized* during the talks if the “family portrait” is any indication, though there were lots of photos of a Tsipras and Merkel tete à tete in the hallways of EU headquarters in Brussels.
Clearly the tragedy of the Aegean is not merely a European issue but an international problem as Turkey’s application for membership in the EU was rejected a few years ago.
The solutions from the summit, if there were any agreed upon, unfortunately have nothing to do with the dead of the Aegean.
*the marginalization of Tsipras is apparent in the unfortunate organization of the “family portrait” below. Tsipras is fairly short physically so out of politeness he might have been given a place on the riser. As the elected leader of the EU member country first facing the onslaught of refugees he should have been positioned more towards the center instead of outside the representative of non-EU member Serbia.