Was a pushback to blame for the boat accident?

After the tragic boat accident in which presumably hundreds died off the southwest coast of Greece, accusations are being raised against the Greek coast guard. According to media reports, survivors claim that the boat capsized because an attempt was made to pull it towards Italy. The Greek side denies this, saying that its offers to help were rejected. Commentators voice dismay.

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Fight traffickers, not migrants

The state of affairs in the Mediterranean is incompatible with European values, the Salzburger Nachrichten writes:

“Muttering that ‘they only have themselves to blame’ when people drown at sea is incompatible’ with a humanistic world view. Not only does it run counter to morality and humanity, it also violates our obligations under international law and the rule of law in Europe. If we don’t want to simply accept that young men, women and children drown off our coasts, we must adopt timely countermeasures. ... That means fighting the causes that pushed them to flee. ... The bottom line is that taking countermeasures even before the boats set sail means fighting traffickers — and not migrants.”

Stephanie Pack-Homolka
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Dithering has fatal consequences

The EU is partly to blame for the suffering due to its indecisive North Africa policy, comments the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Young Tunisians and Libyans get into the boats because Europe has not kept its promises after the Arab Spring. After the overthrow of dictator Gaddafi, the Libyans were left to the militias. Yet the citizens had shown in two parliamentary elections and in more than 100 municipal elections that they wanted prosperity and freedom in their homeland, not in Europe. And the economic aid transferred to Tunisia is a fraction of the money that went to Turkey to ensure that migration to the EU stopped there. The mass exodus across the Mediterranean is a result of Europe’s dithering.”

Mirco Keilberth
La Stampa (IT) /

Europe — a soulless fortress

La Stampa denounces Europe:

“According to all witnesses, 600 people are missing: they had left Egypt, crossed Libya and had arrived [off the Greek coast]. The boat on which they were crammed was not rescued in time even though it had been spotted by a Frontex plane and the Athens coast guard had been alerted. ... But this Europe where neither EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen nor EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola have spoken a single word in these hours seems deaf, blind, apathetic. A soulless fortress that no longer even seems to be seeking its soul.”

Annalisa Cuzzocrea
Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

Fake mourning

Blogger Pitsirikos comments with bitter irony:

“The drowned migrants will give Nea Dimokratia’s share of the vote another boost in the [25 June] election, because the Greeks may pretend to be sad about the drowned but in reality they’re very happy to have a government that lets the migrants drown. ... Let’s all enjoy the wonderful Greek summer together. ... But make sure you pick up the hundreds of bodies from the fishing boat so that no drowned babies end up on the golden beaches and the tourists leave the country.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Madrid must strengthen the migration pact

Spain must use its upcoming EU Council presidency to push for asylum reform in the EU, urges La Vanguardia:

“Europe needs to agree and finalise, without further delay, the criteria and conditions that govern migration and asylum policy. Some 20,000 people have died in the Mediterranean since 2014. ... The criterion according to which each state is responsible for the migrants it receives has reinforced the worst reflexes of some countries and exacerbated the xenophobia. Concluding this pact and ensuring a proportional distribution of this unstoppable immigration without ‘abandoning’ the receiving countries — as is the case now — would already be a major achievement for Spain.”

In.gr (GR) /

Traffickers not the only ones to blame

The EU is partly responsible for the deaths, news website In stresses:

“For years, the Mediterranean Sea has been a sea of death. People driven by poverty, violence and war seek a better fate in Europe. They cannot migrate legally because the EU’s immigration policy has been dictated for years by the far right, which cries ‘we have no room’, overlooking the fact that all European states were created through population movements. This means that people who want to get to Europe must go through traffickers. ... The easy explanation is to say that the traffickers are to blame for the thousands who drown. .... Yes, they are to blame, but they are not the only ones. ... The traffickers exist because Europe doesn’t want to take in the migrants.”

Lefteris Charalampopoulos
Avgi (GR) /

Solidarity remains the only way forward

Only through concerted action and on the basis of international law can a solution to such tragedies be found, the left-wing daily Avgi believes:

“For today’s Europe, not even the large number of deaths is reason enough to see this as an emergency situation or to discuss a change of policy in dealing with the refugee and migration issue. This was not even the case when unquestionably democratic governments were in power. Will it happen now that the scales are tipping in favour of Meloni, Orbán, Le Pen and the German and Spanish far right? ... There will be no solutions unless they are pan-European and based on the principles of solidarity, fair distribution and respect for international law and the rights of asylum seekers.”