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European Union Issues Warning To Greece

The European Union issued a warning to Greece, giving the country three months to secure its borders after a report found that Greece failed to control the external frontier of the border-free zone.

The report, issued on Jan. 27, said Greece "seriously neglected" to enforce border controls along its external frontier, allowing more than 850,000 migrants and refugees to enter the country in 2015, according to BBC News.

The report found that Greece failed to register arrivals properly, take fingerprints of everyone who entered the country, verify identity documents and check Interpol databases for anyone accused of a crime.

Greece shares one border with EU countries and is encircled on three sides by water, making it the first stop for many refugees and other migrants coming from Turkey. From there, most attempt to make their way through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria with the goal of ultimately reaching countries such as Germany or Sweden.

Although the Schengen zone normally allows for open border crossings, several countries have reinstated border controls in response to the recent wave of migrants traveling through Europe. As a result, the EU gave Greece three months to fix its border controls to allow EU countries to maintain internal border security within the Schengen zone.

The Schengen agreement allows countries to temporarily impose border controls in times of crisis, which can last up to two years. Several EU countries, including Austria and Hungary, closed their borders. Germany is considering doing so in response to a recent wave of anti-immigrant sentiment arising from a series of assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s eve, reports BBC News.

If Greece fails to make improvements, the EU may institute border checks to prevent those in Greece from moving north into countries such as Macedonia and Albania. So far in 2016, around 80,000 people have already entered Greece from Turkey, most seeking refuge from conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sources: BBC News (2) / Photo credit: Meabh Smith/Trócaire

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