President of the European Council Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament President David Sassoli and European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas joined Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in visiting the Greece-Turkey border at Evros on Tuesday to observe the tense situation of the past few days.
One day earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for using refugees and migrants for political purposes at home and as a tool of pressure on the EU to give him more money for taking care of the refugees.
“We live, act and are together and together we must protect our borders,” European Council President Michel said, expressing his support for the Greek effort.
“This border is not only a Greek border but it is also a European border. And I stand here today as a European at your side,” the European Commission President declared to the Greek Prime Minister.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had said the same thing before von der Leyen but added more substance to his sentiments.
The Austrian leader stated on Monday that the pushing and transportation of migrants to the Greek border is an organized act, and he urged the EU to put more pressure on Erdogan — otherwise, he warned, this will be “the beginning of the end.”
In addition to their words of support, the European Commission earmarked €700 million ($770 million) for the Greek effort to defend its borders.
Let us hope, then, that these words turn into action. And hope that the support will not be limited to the millions of euros that Greece will receive and more Frontex units and vehicles and vessels to protect the borders.
But this still will not solve the overarching problem. One way or another, more migrants will continue to sneak in to Greece. They will be added to the hundreds of thousands already stranded in the country. What will happen with them? Will they be distributed fairly to other European Union member states?
They should, because Europe is partly responsible for all this madness. For years now, Europe has sent a clear message that it is open to the whole world. That it is a friendly, peaceful, prosperous community into which poor people from all over the globe can migrate.
So the message sent from Europe and its migrant-friendly legislation is that the process of camping out in the open and suffering in a wretched Greek migrant facility after having paid the traffickers handsomely and putting your life at risk on a dinghy will all be worth it for the migrants.
Most of them dream of ending up in Germany, Sweden, or France, where there are good social benefits, government programs and plentiful jobs.
There was never a clear message from the EU that only a limited number of refugees and migrants can be accommodated and naturalized into its nations. That the migrants who are welcome to Europe must have legal identification papers and work skills — and must respect the law and the citizens of the country in which they wish to live.
The EU also never made it clear that member states will not accept people who try to cross borders illegally. It never warned that people who attempt to do that will be arrested and sent back immediately.
Instead, Europe, along with the UNCHR, funded NGOs to handle the migrant flow at the point of entry, the nation of Greece — that is, until Erdogan decided to use migrants and refugees as pawns in his evil scheme and the flow suddenly became an uncontrollable flood.
And this happened at the expense of both the nation of Greece and the migrants themselves.
What the EU must do at this point is make clear to the Greek government what will happen with the migrants currently living on Greek soil who do not qualify for asylum.
The real aid Greece needs right now concerns the processes which must be put in motion to send back the thousands who entered illegally without documentation.
Because the difficult task of stopping the influx, coupled with the deportation of those who do not qualify for asylum, is a burden that Greece cannot — and should not — handle alone.
Ideally, the mechanism that has been set up in receiving, identifying and accommodating refugees and those migrants who qualify for asylum, should switch to one that will send back those who have no right to be here if they have entered illegally.
This is what Greece should expect from the EU — not tents. Unless Brussels continues to play Pontius Pilate, with their seemingly endless equivocations, making an already difficult situation one that is completely untenable.