A staff-level meeting is being held today in Brussels between representative of Greece, Germany, and European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, following a backlash over Germany’s decision to suspend Schengen area provisions for Greek citizens.
According to a response of the German interior ministry to a question posed by the German Press Agency wire service, internal border checks were instituted for Greek nationals on 12 November, and will continue for six months.
The Greek foreign ministry has avoided comment on the development, though a diplomatic source indicated that “representations have been made at various levels”
According to a spate of Greek press reports, Greek nationals arriving at German airport are separated from other EU Schengen area nationals and bused to a different facility, where they are subjected to extensive interrogation and checks.
The German interior ministry asserted that the cause for the distinction against Greek nationals is the fact that about 1,000 passengers arriving at German airports from Greece between January and October, 2017, presented false travel documents.
Natasha Bertaud, a spokesperson for the European Commission, said that Germany is one of the EU countries have revived border checks on arrivals from countries in the Schengen area, which she said aim to stem illegal migration.
Bertaud said Berlin had offered assurances that the measures would be “targeted and limited” and aim at bolstering internal security.
A press report in the Athens daily Kathimerini quoted an unnamed traveler who described their experience at a German airport.
“Upon our arrival in Frankfurt on an Aegean Airlines flight we were taken out via the airplane’s back door and into the cold, and they left us to freeze on the tarmac,” one traveler told Kathimerini.
“They then put us on a bus, then left us on the tarmac again, before walking us to a remote area where we had to stand in line for 30 minutes,” he said, adding that they were questioned intensely by airport officials.”
Veteran Berlin correspondent Pantelis Valassopoulos reported on Greek Ant1 TV last night that for the past three years Greek authorities have given permission for German plainclothes policemen to verify the authenticity of travel documents of passengers traveling to German airports from Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.
The inter-state agreement also includes airports on Crete and Thessaloniki.
«There has been a very strong reaction, both on the operational and the political level,» Greek Police spokesman Theodorios Chronopoulos told To Vima English.
Chronopoulos said that Greek officers perform the checks and role of the German policemen is advisory, checking the authenticity of German and other travel documents in cooperation with Greek colleagues.
There are three plainclothes German policeman posted at Eleftherios Venizelos airport, and that number increases in the summer.
That being the case, it is unclear why the task of weeding out the falsified travel documents of the 1,000 passengers that were reportedly detected at German airports was not completed in Greece.