Belgium asked Greece to ‘push immigrants back’

Yannis Mouzalas with Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. [European Commission]

Greece’s Migration Minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, said on Thursday (28 January) that Belgium had asked him to go against the law, and “push migrants back in the sea”. EURACTIV Greece reports.

In an informal meeting in Amsterdam (25 January), EU interior and justice ministers exchanged views on the current state of play of the refugee crisis.

The European Commission published a report on 27 January, according to which Greece was threatened with a potential suspension from Schengen zone in the event it didn’t take immediate action to protect the external borders of the EU.

>>Read: Greece calls Commission’s Schengen report ‘politicised’

However, Athens hit back and slammed the Commission over that the report saying it was highly “politicized”.

Grexit is visible

Speaking to the BBC, the Greek minister stressed: “Belgians told us: Go against the law! We are afraid! We don’t care if they are drowned.”

Mouzalas added that the rest of ministers strongly disagreed with their Belgian counterpart, Theo Francken.

According to reports, Katrien Jansseune, the minister’s spokesperson, said that it was an informal meeting, and what Fracken said was not the official position of the government.

The leftist minister went further on Friday (29 January), saying that he feared a Grexit from the Schengen area was close.

“Such a possibility is getting visible; under the table one can hear such things …. Doesn’t that make us feel a bit worried?” Mouzalas wondered. “Europe is faced with a split that surpasses the political parties […] I am really worried about the threats of Europeans,” he added.

In an effort to secure unity on the issue, next week, Mouzalas will meet the leaders of the opposition parties. 

>>Read: Pittella: Member states are to blame for the refugee deadlock

“We should all thank Greece for continuing to save thousands of refugees on an everyday basis, despite its difficult economic outlook […]selfish national rhetoric means that member states continue to look at the finger rather than the moon. Greece is not the problem”, Gianni Pittella, the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) chief in the European Parliament, told EURACTIV.

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