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GreekReporter.comEuropeSchengen Biannual 'Check-up' Shows Immigrants Crossing Mostly at Greek-Turkish Border

Schengen Biannual ‘Check-up’ Shows Immigrants Crossing Mostly at Greek-Turkish Border

Schengen works, and works well, according to Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Internal Affairs. During the presentation of the first report of the Executive in Brussels on the state of health of the Treaty about the free movement of people in the EU borders, a positive balance was established.

Despite the optimism of Malmstrom, there isn’t only good news. Analyzing the report, it is clear that checks along the border lines remain unsolved. Only in the last three months of 2011, it is estimated that over 30,000 immigrants were able to illegally enter the Schengen area, especially through the Greek-Turkish borders.

What is more, Greece’s eastern frontier with Turkey poses the biggest challenge for Europe’s open-border Schengen area, according to the so-called Schengen “check-up.”

Around 75% of the 30,000 illegal crossings occurred at the Greek-Turkish border. The majority were Afghan and Pakistani nationals, the Commission announced.

The Commission’s biannual overview on the functioning of Schengen, which permits visa-free travel across 26 EU and non-EU countries, is designed to enhance political guidance and cooperation amongst participating countries.

“Everyone needs to do their part to preserve Schengen,” said Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom, describing it as “one of the most valued achievements of European integration.”

France and Germany have proposed that states in Europe’s Schengen border agreement be given more leeway in suspending the pact in extreme cases. They say amendments are necessary to ensure tighter security within the EU. Tighter security measures have also been recorded in passengers arriving in Germany with Greek flights as a precaution, given that the Schengen agreement is repeatedly being violated at Greek borders and Germany fears of immigrant “contagion.”

In light of the recent “accusation” against the country’s unprotected borders, Greece has taken steps to curb the influx of illegal migrants. The government has announced the construction of a 12.5-kilometer wire fence that will stretch along the most porous section of the land border with Turkey in Evros. However, the project remains unfinished.

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