Home Posts tagged "Greece"

The ECtHR on Disembarkation of Rescued Refugees and Migrants at Greek Hotspots

Published on October 25, 2019        Author: 

The storm-tossed question of disembarking rescued refugees and migrants

The pressure of mass migration in the Mediterranean on EU sea-border states calls for other member states to contribute to humanitarian efforts at sea that respect the human rights of refugees and migrants. Article 98 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) codifies the maritime duty to rescue persons in distress and creates the complementary duty on coastal states to cooperate in operating search and rescue (SAR) services. Under the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR Convention) and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention) the relevant coastal state must ensure timely disembarkation of survivors at a ‘place of safety’ (see e.g. 1979 SAR Convention Annex ch. 3, 3.1.9). However, poor reception and detention conditions at Greek hotspots in the Aegean Sea raise the question of whether disembarkation at these EU assigned facilities will be in contravention of obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), in particular the Article 3 prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment.

Following an overview of the current conditions at the Greek hotspots, this study considers a number of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) exploring extraterritorial liability for disembarkation and the relevance of the contexts of maritime rescue and mass migration to the overall assessment of Article 3. Despite problems such as severe overcrowding, Convention states may be able to disembark at Greek hotspots without triggering Article 3 liability. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Settlement Agreement between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Published on June 18, 2018        Author: 

On 12 June, Athens and Skopje announced that they have reached an agreement to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav Republic’s name that has troubled relations between the two states for decades. The agreement was signed at Prespes Lake, a lake at the border of Albania, Greece, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on 17 June. Despite the historic significance of the deal, following its announcement, the two governments have faced furious backlash. Voices on both sides condemn the agreement in the strongest possible terms, with the President of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, rejecting the deal point-blank and the Greek opposition submitting a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his government, which failed to carry late on the night of 16 June, a few hours before the signing of the Agreement.

The present contribution provides an overview of the main points of the Agreement reached between the two neighbours to end their 27-year-long bitter dispute.

Historical Background

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the interim designation of the constitutionally named ‘Republic of Macedonia’ (Republika Makedonija) at the time of accession to the UN. The Republic of Macedonia declared independence in 1991 at the dissolution of the SFRY, and sought international recognition. The use of the name ‘Macedonia’ has created a long-lasting dispute with the neighbouring country of Greece. Read the rest of this entry…


Revising the Treaty of Guarantee for a Cyprus Settlement

Published on June 21, 2017        Author: 

On June 28th, 2017, the UN-sponsored international conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, will attempt to comprehensively settle the Cyprus Issue. The Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot delegations will be joined by the delegations of the three ‘Guarantor Powers’ (Greece, Turkey and the UK), and one from the EU as an observer, in order to discuss the issue of security and guarantees – an issue that appears to be the major stumbling block for an agreement. The existing Treaty of Guarantee (1960) has failed in so many respects. It has been violated by the Greek side, which suspended basic articles of the Constitution under the doctrine of necessity in the 1960s and sought to unite the island with Greece following the junta-led military coup in 1974. It has also been violated by the Turkish side, which used it to militarily intervene in 1974, without seeking to reestablish the state of affairs created in 1960 and instead opting to partition the island.

The current position of the Greek side is that guarantees should be abolished altogether, whereas the Turkish side considers that they have provided effective security and should be maintained in some form or another. In public discourse, both sides selectively interpret the notion of guarantee and what it is meant to serve so as to support their positions. If not treated as a political cover but in a legal sense, however, a guarantee refers to ‘any legally binding commitment to secure [an] object’ (Oppenheim’s International Law, vol. 1, 9th edition, p. 1323). Creating binding commitments is the gist of the matter that should concern us. Read the rest of this entry…



Published on July 28, 2015        Author: 

Hold fast to dreams//For if dreams die//Life is a broken-winged bird//That cannot fly.//Hold fast to dreams//For when dreams go//Life is a barren field//Frozen with snow.

With this poem by Langston Hughes I ended my graduation speech in high school. I remember it now as I am pondering how to put into words my feelings and thoughts of the last weeks oscillating between hope, fear and despair — triggered by the events unfolding after the Greek delegation “left the negotiating table” in Brussels on 27 June. When I graduated from high school more than 20 years ago I was quite hopeful (like generations before me) that knowledge combined with political activism could change the world for the better. Already then I was fearful of environmental disaster and military destruction, but periodical acts of teenage disobedience – plastering the school with antiwar poems to protest against the first Iraq war or blasting music over the courtyard while staging an impromptu play (I cannot remember against or for what exactly) — were not only fun but gave me and my friends a sense of agency – “Viele kleine Leute an vielen kleinen Orten, ….”/think global act local.

In the meantime the world has become no friendlier place (but who am I to state this privileged as I am). I may be wiser (although sometimes I doubt it), but I also succumbed to a mixture of complacency or trust in professions and institutions, resignation and perpetual lack of time. I trust that science and politics will do something to keep us safe and free, that one of the political parties will have a programme relatively compatible with my ideological leanings. I close my ears to the horror scenarios describing the consequences of climate change as I have stopped believing that we will achieve a reorganization of our economy and am too much of a coward to confront the disasters that lie ahead. But apart from complacency and resignation the possibly most significant difference to my political teenage self is the perceived loss of time. Time spent with friends who also had nothing more important to do than to think up little projects – plays, posters, protests… I am lucky that my current job does not meet the description of a “bullshit job” (recently formulated by David Graeber), but appears to leave me some freedom for thinking, educating, creating. Yet this has not helped to sustain the sense of agency I felt as a youth. I have become more knowledgable, my critique better founded but I no longer see how we (who?) might halt ecological destruction or social destitution. And thus I am not even using the time and space offered by my job for any kind of mischief that would combine joy, resistance and engagement for change.

The last weeks now worked like a wake up call for me, triggering a sense of urgency for action, some action, any action and if it is only the writing of this post (which prompts a multitude of voices in my head judging my musings to be “gratuitious”, “empirically unfounded”, “theoretically undercomplex” …). So what was the trigger that suspended resignation and shattered complacency and trust (“Vertrauen” — a word I have come to loathe in the past weeks for its abuse and misuse by crisis commentators)? It was, I suspect, a combination of a heightened perception of complicity in a number of outrageous injustices and the excitement that agency may be regained. I may have long resigned to the fact that my privilege is the flip side of other people’s poverty, that through my daily consumption choices I am perpetuating structural injustices. Read the rest of this entry…

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