According to Apostolis Fotiadis’ latest opinion piece, “Kicking Greece out of Schengen won’t stop the refugee crisis”, recent media reports that Greece might be facing suspension from the Schengen zone reveal a tendency of certain European officials to easily abdicating the EU’s responsibilities for the mishandling of the refugee crisis, by blaming Greece’s lax border controls for the influx of the refugees into central Europe. Fotiadis, a freelance journalist who writes for Inter Press Service from Athens, points out that while Greece is accused for delays, “the EU has for months been dragging its feet in providing support for overworked Greek border staff”. European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was critical of the snail-paced EU relocation system of 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, which he estimated will take eight decades to complete at current rate.

In the meantime, Frontex is still issuing desperate requests to EU countries to chip in more officers to help with screening and registration. Moreover, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas stated that he “has been waiting in vain for the Eurodac machines required for taking fingerprints… And yet, between 25 October and 25 November, out of 45,000 people who arrived in hotspot areas, 43,500 were fingerprinted – mostly by national police officers working around the clock.”As Fotiadis notes, “blaming Greece for its ineffectiveness in relocating refugees is also much easier than admitting that the entire relocation system has collapsed before really finding its feet”. He believes that the real problem lies behind the effort by European leaders to turn Greece into a kind of “population filter” while its northern and eastern partners in the EU are not willing to offer places to any more people.

Fotiadis warns that “cutting Greece loose from the principle of free movement would not directly alleviate the refugee flows moving towards central Europe”, but it will have a severe impact on the tourist industry that is vital to the Greek economy.

See also: “Fotiadis interview “Europe speculates on the refugee crisis“; “Greece asks EU for help with refugees following threats