Defense Ministers of the North Atlantic Alliance unanimously decided the NATO involvement in the Aegean Sea in order to “assist Turkey in the refugees and migrants issue”, to “intercept smugglers moving migrants from Turkey to Greece,” – and in extended form also to Europe – and “to stem illegal trafficking and illegal migration in the Aegean.”
NATO patrols to focus on deterring human trafficking, not on stopping refugees from trying to make the journey.
The alliance will also enhance its surveillance of the Turkish-Syrian border to monitor more closely the flow of migrants.
Thursday noon, NATO General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, outlined the key decisions, among others as:
- reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance of the illegal crossings in the Aegean Sea.
- the NATO Force will establish a direct link with the European Union’s border management agency Frontex.
- NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 which is currently deployed in the region under German command will start maritime surveillance activities without delay.
- top military commander SACEUR is now directing the Standing NATO Maritime Group to move into the Aegean without delay.
According to Greek state ERT TV, a total of 57 ships will participate in the NATO Force. The NATO fleet currently under German command consists of German, Greek, Turkish and Canadian ships.
Stoltenberg announced also that in the terms of the agreement
“Greek and Turkish armed forces will not operate in each other’s territorial waters or air space.”
This limitation of Greek and Turkish armed forces activities came after a relevant request by Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos due to the ongoing conflict with neighboring Turkey as Ankara keeps questioning Greek sovereignty over some islands and islets in the Aegean and the markation of the continental shelf.
Indicative for the absurd demands of Ankara was the incident on Thursday morning, when the Turkish General Staff issued a NOTAM demanding that Search & Rescue crews operating to locate the crashed helicopter of the Greek Navy should report to Turkish authorities and not to Greek. Odd! The helicopter crash on the island of Kinaros, located between the island groups of Dodecanesse and the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea and thus some 40-50 nautical miles away from the Turkish coast!
NATO military authorities have still to work out all the other technical details of the operation as soon as possible.
Stoltenberg stressed that the NATO Mission in the Aegean was “not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” but to “contribute critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.”
Questions that still need answers are:
- how exactly refugees boats will be forced to return to Turkey?
- what will happen if the smugglers will not obey the NATO forces?
- will the NATO forces be also involved in Rescue activities in case the refugee boats sink?
NATO decision underlined the cooperation among the NATO forces, the Frontex and the national coastguards of Greece and Turkey.
Speaking to Greek media, Minister Kammenos stressed that it is a mission of Search & Rescue. He added that:
“the migrants who will be arrested will be taken back to Turkey.”
KTG understood Kammenos as implying that this will happen also in case the migrants will be caught in Greek territorial waters.
The NATO ministers also decided to enhance with AWACS surveillance of the Turkish-Syrian border to monitor more closely the flow of migrants.
Stoltenberg’s speech transcript here.
PS will the NATO activity stop the refugees & migrants from coming to Europe?
All of this is illegal and will be stopped by the courts and activists. There is no authority to use NATO to stop refugees, there are no known traffickers (they are smugglers) and this will get nasty quickly. If NATO tries to interfere with ships, this could be seen as piracy. If the smugglers have weaponry they may fire on the ships: will the NATO ships fire and kill refugees? This will be a humanitarian crime, judiciable not only in The Hague but also in the European courts.
The politicians pushing this line have brain damage.As farc as Kammenos is concerned, his statement that refugees will be returned to Turkey is either a lie, or plain ignorance. As I mentioned in another post, an attempt to do this before with Frontex (and Libya) was ruled illegal by the Court of Justice. That ruling stands.
what court will stop the NATO, which group of activists?
The German courts can stop German ships — and will do so — if they dare to break EU and international law. The German politicians are out of control — as they were in the 1930s.
As far as I understand those ships can only monitor and report to the coastguard who then might stop the boats so long as they are still in turkish waters, but this wont work often. Aside from that they could arrest smugglers if those are on board(whichmost of the time they arent), this part of the plan seems naive.
As for sea rescue, obviously anyone in distress must be rescued and even aside from the law I cant imagine a situation where they wouldnt do that, noone is going to shoot on refugees(and noone sitting in a small overcrowded boat is going to attack a big shit nato warship, thats absurd)
All in all I am for this, because the more ships are patrolling the seas the less people will drown.
This will be Smyrna 1922, if we close our eyes we can see Smyrna, drowning refugees and warships taking nobody in. Everybody who not thinks that already the appearance of sea-monsters like this will scare people in small dinghies full of water and people into panic and deadly mistakes should call his/her local sea rescue for a lesson or a doctor.
Just a normal boat of the coast-guard is already a big one, also shootings already happened, never underestimate the stupidity of criminals or just desperation who might think they’ve bribed enough and believe guns will not get answered, also NATO-warships rolling over refugee-boats in the Libyan sea did happen; but may be now it’s too much public…
Another problem will be that stupid soldiers might think creating waves by encircling small boats will be convincing, so as this is a deadly weapon it has to be banned.
This move is a perfect trick to let the world see what Turkey is doing in this area since years and that this is not a “typical Greek” “conspiracy theory”
I give up
The German politicians have now started claiming that all refugees will be sent back to Turkey. This is just a massive waste of German taxpayers’ money by the government in order to fool the German Volk.
It’s the same type of scam as they did with the eurozone: paying the German private banks and claiming that the Greeks were the problem. It’s a pity that German people, despite their high level of education, appear to have a rather low collective IQ.
Education = stupidity, or how silly can such a small country be to be so irresponsible to produce 10% of climate chaos through cars production, cars driving and eating animals although all educated people know of this since 20 years? Corruption is the only possible answer and this is also the reason why they vote their politicians, not for any ideals or believes.
But who knows, may be they think it over and will not be amused by the reality of sending back people. Also possible could be that the NATO involvement will be an invitation to smugglers like it was in Libya and then Berlin must force Europe to take refugees or it will leave the EU.