The Strategist

Greeks Are Asking Financial Assistance Again, This Time - For Refugees

03/08/2016 - 07:07

Greece is on the verge of another crisis, this time because of the situation with refugees. Macedonia’s actions have led to the accumulation of thousands of migrants at the north Greek border. The Greeks are asking for almost € 500 million to cope with the problem, but they will not help if other EU countries do not host the settlers. Against this background, Germany may reduce the requirements for reforms in the country.

Rebecca Harms, wikimedia
Rebecca Harms, wikimedia
This week, the refugees situation in Greece flared up again. In addition to the complexity of the claims of creditors, that is, austerity measures and related unrest on the part of the population, migrants began to express their dissatisfaction, too.

Macedonia recently closed the border with Greece and began to give way to their territory only to a few dozen people each day. A social aggression has already become the consequence of this: in early March, hundreds of migrants blocked rail links in northern Greece, near the border with Macedonia, in protest against the closure of the "Balkan route".

According to the Greek Government, about 25 thousand refugees are currently "blocked" in Greece, i.e. do not have the opportunity to get to another country.

Of these, about half are in Idomeni refugee camp, located 20 km from Macedonia, and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The number of temporary migrants entering the country is increasing by 1 thousand people every day.

"In March, 50-70 thousand refugees may come into Greece and then, hopefully, the flow will stop." - said Migration Policy Minister Ioannis Mouzalas to The Guardian.

Most likely, the Greek army will continue to monitor the situation. Now, they are building housing for refugees and distributing products. In the future, they will be blocking the crisis. "Wherever the military may be needed, they will play a role as in all Western democracies", - explained the official.

It is not surprising that Greece needs additional funding in the situation where the flow of migrants is actually locked down in the country.

In early March, Greece asked the EU's financial assistance in the amount of € 483 million (about $ 534 million) to accommodate 100 thousand refugees. Those money include staff costs, medicine, tents, blankets, and technical assistance, reports The Wall Street Journal.

However, the Greek authorities are convinced that even if they receive the money, the problem will not be resolved easily.

"Financial aid does not mean that the crisis of migrants will settle easily, we cannot survive if all the refugees are stuck in Greece, - explained the government. - All of this is interim measures, and we must firmly decide where to resettle the refugees, and how many people will be placed at each country."

According to new data, the humanitarian program of the European Commission proposes to spend € 700 million (about $ 760 million) due to fears of the emergence of "a humanitarian catastrophe in Greece", quotes Reuters the words of the EC President, Jean-Claude Juncker. Of these, € 300 million will be available later this year to serve the migrants’ basic needs - food, drink and accommodation. The remaining € 400 will be spent within two years to help Greece and other countries in the way of the migration.

However, the new plan requires approval, all the more that the annual EC budget is only € 155 million.

The Germans, whose opinion plays an important role in EU economic issues, understand Greece’s difficulties. In early March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that differences in opinions on refugees threaten the Eurozone as such. Previously, she also warned European leaders from leaving Greece alone with the influx of migrants.

While some European countries are not prepared to discuss the allocation of quotas on migrants, there is another option to help Greece.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at the G20 meeting in Shanghai in late February, hinted that Germany might "bestow" the Greeks with leeway, notes Bloomberg.

This means easing the Greek authorities on the execution of the tough reforms needed to restore normal budgetary performance, say experts.

Thus, according to a senior researcher at the Brookings Institute USA Theodore Pelagidis, migration crisis could take the measures, the implementation of which is scheduled to 2017 and 2018, off from the agenda.


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