17-point plan against chaos on the Balkan route
13 European states agreed on a 17-point plan for countering chaos on the Balkan route at the special summit on the refugee crisis on Monday. Among other points, 100,000 places in reception centres are to be created in the region, and EU border protection is to be upscaled. At least Europe's states are once again seeking dialogue, some commentators write. Others see the plan as neither satisfactory nor workable.
Not a big hit
With its 17-point plan the EU has missed an opportunity to overcome the refugee crisis, the liberal Aargauer Zeitung criticises: "Shelters for around 100,000 people are to be erected at various locations between Greece and Germany. Countries that can't do this on their own will have recourse to the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Croatia did just that on Monday. And so it is patently clear what the refugee crisis has now become: a disaster. First and foremost for those directly affected. But also for the EU as a political union. It is significant that the unassuming quintessence of the statement is that countries affected should 'not only talk about and at each other but also with each other'. For the time being no one dares to so much as think about major steps like introducing fixed quotas or seeking a solution to the problem on location in Syria. Instead the politicians are hoping that winter will give them a reprieve and deter the refugees from attempting the journey to Northern Europe."
At least the fighting has subsided for now
In view of the fact that the leaders of the Balkan states were blaming each other for the situation the plan represents at least some progress, writes the liberal daily newspaper Večer: "The 17-point plan is certainly a success and a step forwards, also because it has defused the dispute between the Western and Eastern EU states somewhat. The agreement is thoroughly typical of the EU: it went through during a night session and contains something for everyone, thus appeasing the mood for the time being. But this plan by no means ensures that the Balkans will be able to count on European solidarity to manage the refugee crisis. That solidarity is still on trial - and the survival of the EU depends on it."
Balkan summit a rotten deal for Balkan states
The measures agreed on at the crisis summit put the Balkan countries in a very difficult situation, the left-leaning daily Duma believes: "Juncker basically wants the refugees to be kept in the Balkan countries. How else are we to understand his statement that the current 'policy of waving refugees through' is unacceptable? What he didn't say, however, is what we should do with the hundreds of thousands of people who don't want to stay a day longer than they have to in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia or elsewhere on the Balkan route, and who are putting all their energy into getting to Germany, Austria, Sweden and so on. Should we arrest them, lock them up, put them in concentration camps and have them whipped? And if not, what then? ... Bulgaria already once served as the bloody threshold on which the Ottomans' advance on Europe came to a halt. Our country can do without history repeating itself a second time."
50,000 reception places in Greece a dream
Under the new action plan decided at the crisis summit 50,000 of the 100,000 additional places in reception centres for refugees are to be located in Greece. According to Ioannis Mouzalas, Greek Deputy Minister for Migration, 20,000 refugees are to be put up in accommodation the rent for which will be paid by the UNHCR. That won't work out, the liberal website Protagon believes: "By the time the rooms in which these people are to be lodged are located, reviewed and rented out, the crises in their home countries no doubt long be over. ... The chances of this plan being successful are poor indeed. The Greek state has been unable even to relocate its own agencies in available buildings. How is it supposed to house thousands of refugees? ... If competent people take charge of implementing the plan, it could be possible to fill disadvantaged neighbourhoods, abandoned buildings and desolate streets once again with life. But who really believes that anything like that will actually happen?