EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson called on Greece to fully investigate allegations the country’s coast guard had illegally used pushback tactics to force migrants into the Aegean Sea.
Speaking at an EU meeting in Luxembourg, the senior official declared that it “will not accept” any situation where Greece fails to investigate this issue, urging the country to ensure that it doesn’t try to protect its borders at the expense of the bloc’s values.
“We have to protect our external borders, but we also have to protect our values, the rule of law and fundamental rights,” Johansson declared. The remarks come after media outlets reported that footage allegedly showed Croatian police and the Greek Coast Guard using violent and illegal pushback tactics to halt the influx of migrants into their countries.
The Croatian government has agreed to take “this very seriously,” according to Johansson, who added that they have agreed “to immediately investigate” the media reports. However, the “discussion with the Greek minister was different,” forcing the EU official to issue the public demand to Greece.
The Greek Migration Ministry has rejected the claims that its coast guard has used migrant pushbacks, citing how its officials operate within international law when protecting their border.
The concern from the EU about its own member states follows a public declaration from the UK that it will start to use the tactic to address the issue of illegal migrant crossings from France. With more than 14,000 people reportedly travelling across the Channel in 2021 alone, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has clashed with her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin over how to address illegal migration.
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