Από τις διαρροές των απόρρητων διπλωματικών τηλεγραφημάτων, που δημοσιεύει το Wikileaks.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000057
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO AMCONSUL ALMATY AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/01/29
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, KTIP, SNAR, PINR, SMIG, KCOR, KCRM, KHLS, GR”>GR
SUBJECT: Citizen Protection Minister Upbeat on Reorganization, Cooperation
CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador, State, EXEC; REASON: 1.4(B), (C), (D) 1. (C)
SUMMARY: During a 45-minute meeting on January 22 Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Chrysochoidis provided the ambassador with a status report of his ambitious plan to reorganize and energize all of Greece’s civilian security agencies. The Hellenic Coast Guard will be renamed and reorganized by April along the model of the U.S. Coast Guard to focus on maritime border and port security. The Greek National Intelligence Service will be completely overhauled via a draft law that is being drawn up. Within the Hellenic National Police a new agency will be created and staffed with 100 new hires to work on cyber crime and organized crime. The police know the identities of most of the members of Greece’s domestic terrorist groups, but lack the evidence to arrest and prosecute them. Chrysochoidis embraced the ambassador’s proposal to create a local working group on counterterrorism between the embassy and the ministry and welcomed training from the U.S. side for all of the ministry’s agencies as they underwent far-reaching reform. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On January 22 Ambassador Speckhard met for 45 minutes with the Greek Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis. This was the third in a series of meetings by the ambassador to hear from senior Greek officials about the ongoing reorganization of Greece’s security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies under the umbrella of the Ministry of Citizen Protection (MCP), which was formed after the election of the center-left Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government in October 2009. This meeting was intended to obtain a status report on the ambitious plan that Chrysochoidis discussed with the ambassador at their previous meeting on November 12, 2009 (Ref A). The meeting was held in Chrysochoidis’ office in the headquarters of the MCP. The ambassador was accompanied by the DCM, the RAS chief, Legatt, and the ICE chief, while Chrysochoidis was unaccompanied.
3. (C) Chrysochoidis began the meeting by noting that he had just returned from Toledo, Spain, where he had been with the Secretary of Homeland Security on 21 January. He said that the two main issues that he had taken away from the conference were the challenges for EU countries of internally coordinating authorities and sharing intelligence and of cooperating effectively with the United States in counterterrorist initiatives. He remarked that it was pointless for each country to amass large amounts of information and intelligence but not to share that body of data to produce results.
4. (C) The ambassador said that in the two previous days he had held meetings with the commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard (Ref B) and the chief of the Hellenic National Police (HNP) (Ref C) and had noted their focus on creating an atmosphere of interagency cooperation. He asked Chrysochoidis for an update on how his reorganization under the MCP was proceeding and how successfully were agencies cooperating inside of the MCP. The ambassador informed Chrysochoidis that he had proposed to HNP Chief Ikonomou the creation of a local MCP-Embassy working group on counterterrorism, so that the U.S. side could best reinforce and support the Greek side’s efforts.
5. (C) Regarding the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG), Chrysochoidis said that his goal was to organize its functions around its natural missions, namely protection of Greece’s maritime borders and ports. At the end of January he will propose a bill in the parliament to create a new Coast Guard, whose changed role will be reflected in its new name. Currently its name in Greek means Harbor Corps (limeniko soma), but henceforth its name in Greek really will mean Coast Guard (aktofylaki). It will be modeled very closely on the U.S. Coast Guard and oriented to fighting crime and protecting Greece’s maritime borders. Chrysochoidis predicted that the new HCG would be up and running by April.
6. (C/NF) Chrysochoidis severely criticized the state of EYP, Greece’s domestic security and intelligence service. He said bluntly, “EYP is nothing.” It does not serve its mission of protecting Greece and in fact is dangerous to national security because of its many shortcomings, not the least of which is a unionize d labor force. As a result, Chrysochoidis declared, he intends to “collapse and rebuild it” via a draft law that is in the process of being drawn up.
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7. (C) As for the HNP, he repeated his many public comments that Greece’s police force is not up to task of safeguarding society. As a result, he is restructuring it and trying to instill in it a new attitude toward its duties. Part of that drives includes creation of a new agency to fight cyber crime, organized crime, etc. Vacancy notices already have gone out for 100 new positions to be filled by economists, computer specialists, etc., who will bring new, modern skills to the HNP. These 100 new hires will be merged with other officers and located in a new building, so that a fresh modern agency can be built. Chrysochoidis announced that this plan would be rolled out by the end of February, so that it can begin work in March.
8. (SBU) Chrysochoidis said of the Firefighting Service, which now falls under the MCP, that it has enjoyed good cooperation with U.S. counterparts but that he was open to all suggestions about increasing collaboration and training.
9. (C/NF) On domestic terrorism, Chrysochoidis said that the police know the identities of almost all the members of the current terrorist-anarchist groups, but they lack the evidentiary basis for arresting and imprisoning them. He cited the recent example of a bombing on Syngrou Avenue, saying that the police know who carried it out but do not have the concrete evidence to move against them. He said that the great challenge for the police is collecting the information necessary to prosecute terrorists. He repeated earlier claims (Ref C) that there are links between some domestic terrorist groups and the Middle East, including Iran. Chrysochoidis expressed optimism that if his newly invigorated counterterrorist teams at EYP and HNP did their work well, especially their technical collection operations, they would succeed in wrapping up all of the main terrorist groups in the first half of 2010.
10. (C/NF) Chrysochoidis expressed full support for the ambassador’s proposal for a local counterterrorist working group consisting of HNP, EYP, and HCG on the Greek side and FBI, DEA-ICE, and RAS on the American side. He said that he would call the embassy in the near future to get the idea started. He stated forcefully that he wanted outstanding cooperation with the United States and that the MCP did not want to have any secrets from the American side when it came to work against terrorists. He welcomed training across the MCP’s agencies as each underwent fundamental reform.
11. (SBU) Chrysochoidis had just started to respond to the ambassador’s question about Greek work against human trafficking, especially child labor and the sex industry, when he received a call that summoned him to the prime minister’s office. As he was getting ready to leave, he did say that Greece was taking active steps to deal with the problems associated with illegal immigration, including passage of a law on citizenship that would grant legal status to many immigrants. In addition, Greek authorities were trying to end the demand for smuggling rings by closing the exit points to Europe, including the ports of Patra and Igoumenitsa. Greece also wanted to draw a line in the eastern Aegean, but needed the support of Turkey.
UNCLAS ATHENS 000059
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, GR”>GR, SMIG, PBTS, SNAR
SUBJECT: Hellenic Police Chief on Security Service Reorganization,
Migration, C/T Cooperation
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During a meeting on 21 January Hellenic National Police (HNP) Chief Ikonomou told the Ambassador that the reorganization of the Ministry of Citizen Protection was far from complete, but that the overall goal was to foster interagency cooperation across Greece’s non-military security agencies. The HNP itself will be reorganized, beginning with the creation of a new organized crime task force modeled on the FBI. The problem of illegal immigration into Greece requires political solutions on the international level, but in the meantime Greece is sealing its exit points to prevent organized crime rings and the immigrants themselves from moving on to Western Europe. Ikonomou condemned the recent attack on a synagogue in Chania, Crete, and declared no tolerance for anti-Semitic and extreme-right violence. He said that domestic terrorism was a top priority for the police and predicted that the main terrorist groups would be dismantled in the relatively near future. He reacted positively to the Ambassador’s proposal to create a local working group on counterterrorist consisting of senior HNP and EYP officials on the Greek side and FBI and other embassy officials on the U.S. side. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) On 21 January 2010 the Ambassador met for 75 minutes with the chief of the Hellenic National Police (HNP), Eleftherios Ikonomou, in the latter’s office at the headquarters of the Ministry of Citizen Protection (MCP). This was the second in a series of meetings by the Ambassador to hear from senior Greek officials about the ongoing reorganization of Greece’s security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies under the umbrella of the MCP, which was formed in October 2009. (The Ambassador’s meeting with the commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard [HCG] on 20 January was reported in reftel.) Ikonomou became chief of the HNP on November 5, 2009, after the previous chief, Vasileios Tsiatouras, was unceremoniously and quite publicly fired on October 22 by the Greek Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis. The Ambassador was accompanied by the DCM, the RAS chief, the Legatt, the ICE chief, and an LES interpreter, while Ikonomou was unaccompanied.
3. (SBU) This was the Ambassador’s first meeting with Ikonomou, so he began the meeting by congratulating Ikonomou on his appointment, expressing appreciation for the importance of his position for Greek society, and wishing him good luck in his duties. The Ambassador also extended his profound thanks for the excellent work done by the HNP to safeguard his personal security and to protect the embassy’s facilities and personnel. In reply, Ikonomou thanked the Ambassador for opening up a direct channel of communication. He commented on the historically close ties between Greece and the United States and praised the extensive cooperation between the two countries in the area of security. He stated that “the challenges of the times” required even closer collaboration, which he pledged to pursue.
Hellenic National Police Reorganization
4. (SBU) Opening the substantive portion of the meeting, the Ambassador asked Ikonomou for his assessment of how the reorganization of the HNP was proceeding under the plans sketched out by Chrysochoidis. Ikonomou replied that the restructuring of the MCP was still in process, but its overarching goal was to organize Greece’s security agencies in a way that fostered cooperation. He described the decision to create the MCP on the basis of the former Ministry of Public Order but to fold in a number of agencies that had belonged to other government elements, most notably the HCG in its new form but also Civil Defense. It was essential to bring all of these agencies into the same structure, so that they could share a common base that spurred interaction institutionally and personally. Personal ties were essential, Ikonomou continued, noting that the new Deputy Director General of the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP), Fotis Papageorgiou, was a long-time police official who formerly had headed the HNP’s Counterterrorism Unit. Ikonomou pointed out that he and the Director General of EYP, Konstantinos Bikas, have traveled together to Italy and France to hold discussions on bilateral cooperation. In essence, Chrysochoidis was mandating the creation within the MCP of a crisis-management system of the sort that characterized the various Greek agencies in the run-up to the Olympic Games in 2004, when all agencies worked together, many officers received training in modern security techniques, and many officers served rotations in other agencies.
5. (SBU) The Ambassador recognized the importance of close interaction between senior agency officials, but asked how much progress was being made at integrating the new constituent elements of the MCP at the working level. Ikonomou admitted that much work remained to be done in this regard. He cited the challenge of fingerprinting illegal immigrants detained at border points. In Greece only the HNP’s Criminal Investigations Directorate is allowed to process and store fingerprints, but its capabilities and work practices are ill suited to the task. As a result, an initiative is underway to speed up access to this information and to employ modern technology to store and analyze data, so that an official at the border could search against the database and have immediate connectivity and results. It is also essential that these databases be linked in some way the resources and information held by other countries, including the United States, via the most modern software.
The Challenge from Illegal Migration
6. (SBU) Ikonomou described the Greek government’s strategy for dealing with the challenge posed by illegal immigration. Most important, the borders need to be defended as well as possible. This will require close cooperation between the MCP’s elements, especially HNP and HCG, and the military, including the army and the navy. The biggest problem is along Greece’s eastern border, since Turkey Is not making any meaningful effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across both the land and sea borders. Ikonomou said that he appreciated that Turkey has its own problems with illegal immigration, which is why this is a problem for the international community that ultimately has to take into consideration the countries of origin. He pointed out that if the Greek authorities detained a Pakistani entering Greece illegally from Turkey, the illegal immigrant needed ultimately to be returned to Pakistan and not to Turkey. Given the possibility of the radicalization of illegal immigrants and refugees indefinitely staying in Greece, the government wants the European and international communities to focus on this issue as soon as possible.
7. (SBU) In the meantime, Ikonomou continued, Greece was taking some strong short-term actions. Most notably, the authorities were sealing Greece’s exits to Western Europe, especially the ports of Corinth, Patras, and Igoumenitsa, as well as the airports in Athens and Thessaloniki. In their recent trip to Italy Ikonomou and Bikas explained this approach to their Italian counterparts, so that the services of both countries could conduct joint operations, share best practices, etc. By closing the exits, Greece wants to send a strong message to the organized-crime rings, as well as the illegal immigrants themselves, that they cannot achieve their dreams of getting to Western Europe through Greece.
Organized Crime Task Force
8. (SBU) The Ambassador asked for an update on plans to create a new body within the HNP to deal with organized crime. Ikonomou replied that he was in full agreement with Chrysochoidis that the HNP needed a task force with jurisdiction over all Greek territory that dealt with serious crimes. The MCP is still studying what kind of task force to create, although its outline is taking shape. It will report directly to the HNP chief. It will have divisions for cyber crime, homicides, robberies, kidnappings, extortion, economic crime, and human trafficking. A decision has not been made yet about what to do with counterterrorism, whether to make it a division within this task force or to create a separate counterterrorism entity. The task force will have intelligence and analytical sections to collate, process, and study information from casework and ongoing investigations that is centralized in a single database. The software will ensure interconnectivity with other agencies, especially the HCG. It is intended to be a “small FBI,” building up from an initial group of 100 newly hired specialists, for whose positions vacancy notice already have been issued.
Chania Synagogue Arson
9. (SBU) Replying to a direct question from the Ambassador, Ikonomou condemned the arson attack of January 16 on a synagogue in Chania, Crete. He said that the HNP was taking the issue very seriously. He stressed that the police would have no tolerance for anti-Semitic or extreme-right violence in any form. The police had been caught off guard, because there had not been any previous problems in that region. The HNP has now instituted security measures around the synagogue and is investigating the incident fully. C/T
10. (SBU) Asked for an update on the RPG attack against the embassy in January 2007, Ikonomou stated that combating Greek domestic terrorism was a top priority for the HNP. He said that terrorist acts were condemnable from any point of view. Domestic terrorism was problematic not only because of its past focus on diplomatic missions, but also because of its potential to destabilize Greek society. Ikonomou said that the U.S. side knows what the HNP knows about domestic terrorists, because it shares all of its information. He would not predict the timing of any arrests, but expressed optimism that the HNP was making significant progress and would be able in the relatively near future to dismantle these organizations. He stressed that it was important to act as soon as possible, because the groups on the extreme left acted as “waiting rooms” for future terrorists and because of the increasing intersection of domestic terrorist groups and organized crime. Ikonomou concluded by telling the ambassador that he should not hesitate to call him directly if he had any question or problem related to domestic terrorism.
11. (SBU) The Ambassador, reviewing briefly the history of counterterrorist training provided to the HNP, especially by FBI, DEA, and ICE, urged the HNP to forward requests for training to assist with its reorganization and to instill new skills in its changing workforce. The ambassador proposed to Ikonomou that the two sides consider forming a local working group composed of senior HNP and EYP officials on the Greek side and senior FBI and embassy security officials on the U.S. side to discuss on a monthly basis the status and requirements of collaboration against domestic and international terrorists. Ikonomou replied that he was positively disposed to the idea and promised to discuss the notion with the leadership of EYP.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ATHENS 001685
DEPT PASS TO PRM/PIM:SUZANNE SHELDON
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA
AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO AMCONSUL ALMATY
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/04
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, PREF, PTER, SMIG, KCRM, GR”>GR
SUBJECT: Greece: New Government Tackles Migration and Asylum Issues
REF: A) ATHENS 315; B) ATHENS 1349; C) ATHENS 1641; D) ATHENS 2038
CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Greece’s new PASOK-led government has placed migration and asylum policy reform high on its agenda, announcing new measures to combat organized human smugglers, ease naturalization requirements for immigrants born in Greece, provide status to illegal economic migrants, and transfer Greece’s asylum process to a new independent authority. This flurry of activity, all coming during PASOK’s first two months in office, reflects the deep importance Greek officials and voters attach to immigration and its social, economic, and security implications for Greece. Prime Minister George Papandreou and his cabinet are acutely aware of the criticism leveled at Greece’s asylum process and migrant detention centers by human rights organizations. The new Greek strategy involves not only domestic policy reforms but also “Europeanizing” the issue of migration enforcement: putting pressure on the EU to provide more support on border security, urging Turkey to crack down on human smuggling in the Aegean and to take back deportees, and revamping the Dublin II agreement, which saddles Greece with responsibility for all migrants entering Europe through its borders. Despite some success in placing migration on the broader EU agenda, however, the government faces daunting challenges in toughening migration enforcement and implementing a comprehensive, effective migration policy. END SUMMARY.
Migration: A Key Geopolitical and Social Challenge —————————————-
2. (SBU) Greece has become the EU entry point of choice for illegal migrants and refugees, many of whom seek residence in Western Europe and seek only to transit through Greece. Since 2004, the number of illegal immigrants arrested has surged by 325 percent, from 44,987 to 146,337 in 2008–and this number is only a fraction of the true number of migrant arrivals. Greece’s long coastline and the proximity of its islands to Turkey makes the country particularly attractive to maritime human smugglers, many of whom have shifted their operations away from more heavily patrolled Spanish and Italian waters. The undersized and ill-equipped Greek Coast Guard has struggled to keep up. Even if the migrants move on to other European destinations, under the Dublin II protocol, Greece is responsible for their asylum applications as the EU country of first entry–a situation neither the Greeks nor the immigrants like.
3. (C) While nearly half of all illegal migrants come from neighboring Albania, the more visible surge in immigrants from conflict zones in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa has Greeks particularly worried. Migrants participated in the violent protests in Athens between December 2008 and March 2009 (see REF A), and immigrant squatters have taken over some Athens neighborhoods and exacerbated “Greek flight” from downtown areas. Without legal status, lacking opportunities for economic and social integration, and chafing under Greek refusals to build an official mosque, Muslim illegal migrants–especially young men from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia–may be vulnerable to Islamic radicalization in the underground prayer rooms that have proliferated throughout major cities (see REF A). Until recently, Greece was an immigration sending country, and the rapid transition to receiving migrants has been jarring–many Greeks see uncontrolled waves of illegal immigration as a major economic and social destabilizer. In fact, there are key political implications as well: public dissatisfaction with the previous New Democracy government’s handling of migration policy and enforcement likely contributed to its October electoral loss, and LAOS, a far-right party, has surged in recent elections on a nationalist, anti-immigration platform.
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4. (S) The large number of migrants entering Greece also poses risks. As an example, in July, Greek authorities deported Iraqi citizen Mu’ammar Latif Karim (a.k.a. Abu Sajjad), a Sh’ia insurgent commander, back to Iraq (see REF B). Other reporting indicates that multiple travel facilitators for special interest aliens continue to operate in Athens. A recent operation by DHS/ICE demonstrated that a smuggling organization run by an Iraqi national could easily smuggle special interest individuals from Greece to Central America and then into the United States.
Greece to Reform Much-Criticized Asylum Policies —————————————-
5. (SBU) For the last several years, international organizations and regional and domestic NGOs have roundly criticized Greece for its treatment of refugees and its failed asylum processes. Human rights organizations ranging from Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to the UN Human Rights Council and European monitoring bodies have condemned squalid detention centers, a lack of separate facilities for women and unaccompanied minors, and alleged nighttime summary deportations to Turkey without due process. UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have criticized Greece’s 0.03 percent first-instance asylum approval rate, the lack of an independent appeals process, and rampant corruption and inefficiencies during application intake. Some European countries have even suspended the return of migrants and asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin II protocol. During the last two years, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands have intermittently halted returns to Greece, citing human rights concerns. In September 2009, UNHCR reiterated its recommendation that EU member states not return asylum seekers to Greece.
6. (SBU) Greece’s new PASOK government has committed to addressing many of these concerns, and has moved quickly to revamp asylum processes and take measures that should improve the government’s ability to interdict migrants. It has consolidated law enforcement agencies (the National Police, fire service, port police, and Coast Guard elements) into the new, DHS-like Ministry for Citizen’s Protection. This should help the government better coordinate among security services on combating illegal migration. Fulfilling a PASOK campaign promise, Minister for Citizen’s Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis formed an asylum experts’ committee to propose reforms. The committee, composed of representatives from UNHCR, NGOs, academics, and officials, first met on November 26. NGO and government insiders expect new legislation to take up to six months to formulate, and are looking at stopgap measures to address pending asylum applications. NGOs have largely welcomed the government’s proposals to create a new, independent asylum authority separate from the police, and have lauded promises to raise Greece’s asylum approval rate to the “European average.” However, they note that the situation on the ground hasn’t changed at all, detention centers are still filled beyond capacity, and asylum processing by the Aliens Police has all but stopped pending new guidelines.
New Migration Policies and “Europeanizing” Enforcement —————————————-
7. (C) The government’s dire fiscal straits may politically
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hamstring the government’s broader agenda to reshape enforcement and asylum policy, so officials have proposed additional specific migration reforms. PASOK leaders recently reaffirmed their campaign pledge to provide citizenship to children of immigrants, and Minister of Interior Giannis Ragousis told Ambassador Speckhard that the government was considering a new round of amnesties for illegal migrants. Officials admitted that it would take time to pass new legislation, but committed to allowing immigrant children born and raised in Greece to apply for full citizenship. (NOTE: Greek citizenship is difficult to obtain for individuals of non-Greek descent; citizenship criteria are not revealed to the public. END NOTE.) Over the last decade, Greece has had three rounds of amnesties, providing temporary residence permits to large tranches of illegal migrants, and Ragousis said a new amnesty might apply to up to 200,000 immigrants. To prevent an amnesty from attracting even more migrants, officials claim border enforcement would be strengthened. However, Greek law enforcement agencies, despite the recent ministerial reorganizations, remain woefully underprepared for large-scale interdiction of smugglers, and investigators and courts lack the expertise and patience to pursue the leaders of the organized criminal networks that profit most.
8. (C) Because of these domestic shortfalls in migration enforcement, the Greeks have also focused on “Europeanizing” the issue, using a three-pronged approach: putting pressure on the EU to provide more border security support, urging Turkey to crack down on maritime human smuggling and to take back deportees, and pressing for changes to the Dublin II agreement. To raise awareness on migration issues, Greece hosted the Global Forum for Migration and Development, an informal conference bringing together governments and NGOs, in November (see REF D). Over the last six months, Greek leaders have tried multiple tactics to pressure the EU: signing a four-way enforcement cooperation agreement with Malta, Cyprus, and Italy and jointly submitting an illegal migration whitepaper; bilateral meetings with EU border states focusing on enforcement and migration burden-sharing; raising migration issues at EU gatherings of foreign and interior ministers; pressing the EU to forge readmissions agreements with migration sending countries; and inviting FRONTEX, the EU border agency, to increase its presence in the Aegean (see REF C). Greek officials have tried to use the EU to pressure Turkey to live up to its 2001 bilateral protocol to readmit third-country aliens.
9. (C) The Greeks have been successful at gaining the attention of EU leaders. In July, EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot noted that uncontrolled immigration risked “destabilizing Greek democracy” and called on Turkey to do more to stop migration flows. Gil Arias-Fernandez, deputy director of FRONTEX, stated during an October visit that Turkey was uncooperative in stanching illegal immigration. FRONTEX has increased the number of air patrols and maritime observers in the Aegean during the year. However, the Greeks haven’t been able to change the dynamics on the ground. Western European officials have told us there is no chance that the Dublin II agreement will be revised according to Greek wishes. Papandreou has tried to foster more positive atmospherics with Turkey and has refrained from harsh criticism on migration. In November, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to Papandreou with an offer to cooperate on migration; a response is expected soon.
COMMENT: Not Just a Greek Issue, but a European One —————————————-
10. (C) As the migration doorway into Europe, Greece shoulders a disproportionate burden of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. However, the broader political challenges posed by these waves of migration, especially from conflict zones in the Middle East, South
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Asia, and Africa, are applicable to all European nations. Migration is a key crosscutting political, national security, human rights, and socioeconomic phenomenon, and has already had a strong effect on politics throughout European countries this year–for example, right-wing, anti-immigration parties surged in June 2009 European Parliament elections. In our view integration programs are of crucial importance; in the aftermath of the economic crisis, immigration and labor policies are under increased scrutiny; and the EU’s commitment to human rights for refugees and asylum seekers is being tested by the political reality of voters fed up with illegal migration. END COMMENT. Speckhard