European countries have accepted up to 10% of the total 160,000 refugees that were estimated to be moved from unhygienic and overcrowded camps in Italy and Greece, being Malta and Finland the only ones meeting refugee relocation obligations.
This means that countries have only accomplished 8% of pledged refugee resettlements. More precisely, 13,546 relocations have been carried out so far, 3,936 coming from Italy and 9,610 from Greece. The European Commission warns that it will admit “no more excuses”.
While countries such as Hungary, Austria and Poland refused to participate in the European resettlement plan, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and many other are carrying it out on a “very limited basis”.
Meanwhile, the European Commission insisted that the treaty between the European Union and Turkey is working fine a year after its ratification. Crossings from Turkey to Greece have decreased from 10,000 people in a single day to 43 per day currently, with overall entrances going down by 98%.
Greek debt crisis may reappear with revived force unless the government, headed by its Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, achieves an agreement with EU creditors in the next three weeks.
While the ruling two-party coalition celebrates two years in office, the prime minister faces the dilemma of implementing further austerity mechanisms or calling new elections in the country, since the application of severe cuts on social spending has dramatically decreased government’s support.
Moreover, further uncertainty has spread in Greece as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that national debt load could emerge as “explosive” by the year 2030. The IMF has concluded that additional pension cuts and tax increases will be fundamentally needed to achieve a primary budget surplus.
All in all, the country’s economic future appears to be tragic. It definitely seems that even if reforms are truly implemented and followed, Greek debt load will pose a serious problem for the following decades.
During the following weeks Greek and Turkish community leaders will carry on negotiations on reunification talks with the object of arranging the first multilateral conference since the partition of Cyprus 43 years ago. These talks are seen as a determining event in the laborious process of resolving such a diplomatic puzzle.
Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı will try to outline the essential features for a possible peace deal after more than 18 months of intense negotiations to settle inter-ethnic divisions. So far, issues of governance, political power-sharing, the economy and the European Union have also been discussed. Nevertheless, security will be the last point to be argued.
The commitment to a settlement from both leaders has helped to increase hopes. At a time where uncertainty is ruling in Europe, there is a belief that a peace agreement would bring stability to the region. Additionally, Antónito Guterres, the new United Nations Secretary General, called it a “historic opportunity”.