New pushback accusations against Greece

A BBC investigation holds the Greek coastguard responsible for the deaths of over 40 migrants who were allegedly taken from territorial waters in 15 incidents between 2020 and 2023. According to the BBC, in at least five cases people were thrown into the sea. Europe's press discusses these and other cases of pushbacks on the EU's outer borders.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Humanity thrown overboard

These sort of border control practices are indefensible and compromise European values, NRC protests:

“There is no simple solution to Europe's asylum problems. Of course the EU and its members should be able to decide who enters and who not. Furthermore, keeping the number of asylum applications under control or attaching conditions to asylum procedures is per se a legitimate political objective. But what is now taking place on Europe's borders is unacceptable and inhuman. When migrants are thrown overboard, everything else that the EU stands for is thrown overboard with it.”

Avgi (GR) /

Same old government reaction

The left-wing daily Avgi looks back to another boat accident involving migrants, which the European Court of Human Rights categorised as a failure to provide assistance:

“This is a sad repeat of events and reactions from which no lesson was ever learned. Hearing the BBC being attacked for what it is revealing about state responsibility in the Pylos shipwreck case, brings back memories of when another government responded in almost the same way to the allegations about the shipwreck in Farmakonisi. Although there is a huge difference in the number of deaths, we're seeing the identical reaction from the government regarding the circumstances and responsibilities of the two shipwrecks.”

Trouw (NL) /

Attack on EU's core values

Greece is not alone in this, Trouw warns, pointing out that even under the new Polish government, pushbacks are happening at the border to Belarus.

“The blatant disregard for European values and rules inflicts lasting damage to the core values of the entire EU. After all, if countries flout the EU on this issue, what's to stop them from doing the same on other issues when the rights of non-migrants are at stake. The pushbacks have shown that unpunished violations are contagious. The pushbacks should therefore not be seen as a issue that is playing out on Europe's margins, but as a threat to the EU's core values.”

Kaleva (FI) /

Don't set a bad example

Kaleva is critical of the new pushback law being drafted by the Finnish government in defiance of international agreements:

“It is in the security interests of small countries to attempt to create a world order through reliable agreements. This is why it is so risky to contravene international obligations and demonstrate their ineffectiveness to others. Finland's eastern border has been closed for more than six months. The situation in Finland as Russia's neighbour is of course unusual and the closed border can be regarded as the exception in Europe. Any border protection law should include the possibility of opening the border to a limited extent and in a sensible manner, especially if it means facilitating contact between people.”