Who Will Take The Fall?

Over the last two years Aegean Boat Report have been documenting, investigating and publishing information on pushbacks performed by the Greek authorities, assisted by Frontex, in the Aegean Sea.

On April 28 the head of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Mr Leggeri, resigned, in the shadow of the revealing evidence of the involvement of the European coast guard and border guard service in illegal refoulement or pushback operations of hundreds of refugees in the Aegean and of the methodical attempt to mislead and cover up violations of international law.

According to the findings of a joint investigation carried out by France’s Le Monde newspaper, German weekly Der Spiegel, Swiss news outlets SRF Rundschau and Republik, and Netherlands-based Lighthouse Reports, Frontex was involved in 22 pushbacks between March 2020 and September 2021, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Since March 2020, over 30.000 refugees have been pushed back in the Aegean Sea by the Greek coast guard, in many of these cases most likely assisted by Frontex.

Mr Leggeri abandoned ship, but what about his Greek counterparts, his partners in crime, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Ministry of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi, and the Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy Ioannis Plakiotakis, will they also resign or face charges for their crimes against humanity?

We can read in some Greek papers, the once not paid off by the Greek authorities, the call for the immediate resignation of Mr Mitarakis, and a thorough independent investigation into all documented claims of pushback against Greece. This is of course not going to happen as long as the right wing ruling government, Néa Dimokratía, is in power, but would, if investigated, tie up not only the Greek legal system but also the European court, for years if not decades.

The call for the resignation of Mitarakis is a joke, everyone knows that he’s not the mastermind behind this, he honestly isn’t clever enough to even be considered as the one behind these devious plans, he’s basically just a scapegoat, someone to take the fall when “the shit hits the fan”, and now it has, again.

Artwork by Yorgos Konstantinou

The one responsible is of course the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but he has been clever enough to try to stay out of anything related to pushback, so that he can claim to have no knowledge of what has been going on. Mostly this has been a good plan, but not executed well enough. Several times he has been asked direct questions regarding allegations of performing pushbacks in the Aegean Sea on international tv, both by CNN and BBC, both times he blatantly lied and said that the Greek authorities had nothing to do with pushbacks. Also on a press conference in November last year, he showed his true nature, when he “blew a fuse” shouting at the Dutch journalists Ingebor Beugel, when asked why he was lying about the pushbacks.

Of course Notis Mitarachi should resign, but he should also be investigated and face charges for his involvement in these crimes against humanity by the European court.

Mitarachi awarded the director of Frontex, Mr Leggeri, with the “Commendation of Migration Assistance of the Second Class – Commendation of Merit” under a special event in Lithuania in January, a similar award, “Commendation of Migration Assistance of the First Class – Commendation of Merit” was given to the Vice President of the European Commission Mr. Margaritis Schoinas in February. It seem that this “criminal network” reaches further than the Greek border, and deep into the leadership of the European Union.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, sent a strong message of support to Greece in its attempts to stop asylum seekers crossing its border from Turkey in March 2020, calling Greece the “shield of Europe”. I wonder if she still support and praise these violations of international laws and human rights.

We welcome the idea to start an independent international investigation into documented and previously proven pushbacks performed by the Greek authorities. Aegean Boat report, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greek Council for Refugees, BVMN and other independent bodies have published hundreds of well documented reports on pushbacks. The independent international press have also published hundreds of well researched articles on the topic.

You can start by scroll down and read on this page, there is no doubt on who is responsible.

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