Idomeni border camp evacuated; Turkish journalists face closed-door trial, March 21 to March 27



Headlines from Greece, Europe and Turkey for the week, March 21 to March 27.


The influx of migrants and refugees into Greece came to a halt on Thursday when Greek authorities announced there were no arrivals to the Aegean islands in 24 hours. The EU-Turkey plan aimed at stopping the flows from migrant smugglers in Turkey took effect last Sunday, March 20, where all attempting to cross the Aegean to get to Greece were turned back to Turkey. (Ekathimerini, March 24)

Idomeni camp began evacuating migrants last week; 400 refugees were transported to local camps farther from the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. As Ekathimerini reports, the occupants of the Idomeni camp have been left with no choice but to relocate within Greece as the border remains closed. (Ekathimerini, March 26)

Greece’s national new broadcaster, ERT, and the Athens News Agency have announced they will begin programing in Arabic, to provide refugees credible information, announcements and news content. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras praised the move on Twitter, saying it will provide “much-needed, credible programming in Arabic.” (Toronos News, March 25)

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras: implementation of Turkey-EU deal requires “uphill effort.” (Ekathemerini, March 21)


25 Turkish officials arrived in Greece last week as the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement begins. The officials from the Turkish interior ministry will be stationed at the five hotspots—major arrival islands including, Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Leros and Kos.  (Athens News Agency, March 21)

Operations to stop migrant flows from Turkey to the European Union were to begin on March 20, however, as Tsipras noted, there was still a large number of arrivals from Turkey on Sunday. (VOA News, March 20)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls out EU “hypocrisy” over PKK, the outlawed Kurdish party, whose supporters stood outside the EU offices during last week’s EU-Turkey meetings. The PKK, according to the Turkish government, has linked to at least two terrorist attacks in in Turkey in the last eight months. (Al Jazeera, March 21)


Journalists who published a story on Turkey’s involvement in delivering arms to a “terrorist” network in Syria in 2014 will face trial for “divulging state secrets.” Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül are facing potential life sentences in a non-public court hearing, where Turkish President Erdogan will stand as the complainant. (The Guardian, March 25)

President Erdogan is “suspicious” of the EU’s promise of visa-free travel from Turkish citizens. Erdogan’s criticism stems from Turkey’s history with the European Union and their pending EU admission. (Hurriyet Daily News, March 21)


Instead of risking being sent back to Turkey via the Aegean route, Deutsche Welle’s Andreas Gorzewski predicts migrants and refugees will travel instead through Morocco to get to the European Union:

As the eastern Mediterranean increasingly becomes a dead-end street for refugees, the route across the western Mediterranean might turn into an alternative. Spain must keep an eye on developments in neighboring Morocco, Spanish Interior Minister Fernandez Diaz has repeatedly warned. But experts say it’s too soon to predict a greater run on Spanish borders.” (Deutsche Welle, March 21)


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