Nato sends ships to the Aegean

At the request of Berlin, Athens and Ankara, Nato will deploy ships to the Aegean under German command. Some commentators hope the mission will be more effective in fighting people smugglers and improve cooperation between Turkey and Greece. Others warn that just going after rubber boats won't solve the refugee crisis.

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Právo (CZ) /

Nato finally tackling people smuggling

Nato has finally dropped its neutral stance in the refugee crisis and is helping to clamp down on people smuggling, the left-leaning daily Právo writes approvingly:

“One figure shows how crucial this operation is: since the start of the year 75,000 people have crossed the Aegean, ten times as many as in the same period last year. Germany played a key role in passing the Nato resolution. That comes as no surprise, since what happens in the Aegean could determine Angela Merkel's political fate. This transatlantic wake-up call comes at a time when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is threatening to send migrants on to Greece or Bulgaria any time now if the EU refuses to boost its aid to Turkey to six billion euros. We may well have to get ready for more unpleasant surprises.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Mission brings Greeks and Turks closer

The Nato deployment in the Mediterranean will promote trust between two partners, the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“Greece and Turkey, although Nato partners, barely work together in the fight against the smuggler organisations in the Aegean. Under Nato's aegis a Nato ship can supply both sides with precise information. So this is less a militarisation of the refugee policy than a measure to build trust between the Greeks and the Turks. Working to sort out the chaos in the Aegean and save people from drowning in the sea can hardly be classified as an act of war. Looking to the EU for help is no good. Turkey wouldn't tolerate an EU mission like that off the Libyan coast. Naturally Nato won't solve the refugee crisis. But if it manages to help defuse the situation that will already be a useful contribution.”

Delo (SI) /

Hunting rubber dinghies merely pro forma

The Nato operations won't achieve a thing, the centre-left daily Delo is convinced:

“Even if they've agreed to go after rubber dinghies in the Aegean, the Nato generals know perfectly well that the refugee crisis can't be solved in this way. Because tomorrow a new refugee crisis could break out somewhere else. Refugees will always be nothing more than a yardstick for measuring the gravity of the crises they are fleeing. There are many other crises apart from Syria and the entire Nato fleet still wouldn't be enough to chase down all the dinghies. So the announced operations are nothing more than a waste of time and resources. A ploy with which European politicians hope to show their voters that they are capable of decisive action.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Operation can't replace refugee aid

The Nato operation in the Aegean can't replace crucial humanitarian aid for the refugees, the centre-right daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung argues:

“Simply driving the Syrian refugees back to Turkey cannot be a solution to the crisis. ... Turkey is already offering a secure refuge to 2.5 million migrants, and that number is growing every day. As justified as it is to criticise Ankara's tough stance, one can understand President Erdoğan's demand that the critics should also do more to help the refugees. Both Turkey and Syria's other similarly overburdened neighbours Lebanon and Jordan need Europe's help. Primarily in the form of more money and aid, but also through greater readiness to provide additional protection and security to helpless Syrians through selective resettlement. Should that help not be forthcoming, even the most modern warships in the Mediterranean won't stop the desperate war refugees from embarking on the dangerous journey to Europe.”

tagesschau.de (DE) /

Europe's appeal to Nato an embarrassment

The EU's call for Nato missions in the Aegean is a shameful act of despair, the public broadcaster tagesschau.de believes:

“Should it come to this, American ships will patrol the waters of the European Union because the Europeans can't do it themselves. That is the image such missions would send out to the world. An embarrassment. ... What's also completely unclear is what will happen with the situation that Nato is supposed to shed light on. Knowing where the rafts launch from and what routes they take is one thing. But in fact Nato should also be able to stop the boats, identify the smugglers and above all take on board the refugees - as the EU-led mission is already doing off the Libyan coast. And then that leaves the question of what should be done with the rescued migrants.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

International community reveals its helplessness

The appeal to Nato highlights the international community's total helplessness in the face of the Syrian war and the refugee crisis, the centre-left daily El Periódico de Catalunya surmises:

“The advance of the government troops on Aleppo has another serious consequence: the peace talks in Geneva will end practically before they even get started. Any chance of successful negotiations has disappeared for now. Ankara and Berlin's appeal to Nato to get involved in border controls is a desperate call in view of a situation no one can or wants to deal with, neither individual states nor the European Union as a community. This call for help from the Atlantic alliance is proof that the international system has failed miserably after almost five years of war. And Nato's timid response likewise.”

Politis (CY) /

Athens' incompetence to blame

Athens has carelessly left it to Turkey to play the leading role in overcoming the refugee crisis, the liberal daily Politis writes regarding the possibility of a UN operation in the Aegean Sea:

“The refugee crisis is enhancing Turkey's geopolitical importance and we must wait and see what that means for the balance of power in the Middle East. … The EU is now turning to Ankara and Macedonia (where the fence on the border with Greece is being extended) to control the wave of refugees. Greece has failed miserably to show that it can provide stability by protecting the EU outer borders effectively. On the contrary, Greece has put the ball in Turkey's court - with the result that Erdoğan is now ready to show everyone who's boss in the Middle East.”

More opinions

Huffington Post Italia (IT) / 12 February 2016
  Nato ships under German command (in Italian)