Foreign Minister prioritizes bilateral deportation agreements and FRONTEX increased presence (vessels and headquarters) in Greece
Posted by clandestina on 17 June 2009
Greece: Foreign Minister Bakoyannis statements following the EU General Affairs Council (Luxembourg, 15 June 2009)
Ms. Bakoyannis: We had a very important discussion in the General Affairs Council today, in preparation for the European Council. We looked at a range of foreign policy issues mainly the Middle East problem, which is coming back into the focus of interest following the recent Obama and Netanyahu statements, and Greece once again had the opportunity to take a stance and point to the need to hasten the Middle East peace process.
This evening, I will have a private discussion with some of my colleagues from the south – the Mediterranean – in view of the effort that is being made to facilitate this process.
We talked about the Lisbon Treaty, we answered our Irish colleagues questions, and of course we moved ahead to discuss institutional issues, such as the need for the new European Commission posts to be filled as soon as possible if the Treaty goes into force.
On a Greek initiative, we had a detailed discussion of the illegal migration issue. I should tell you here that Greece found a lot of support from many countries – Mediterranean countries, northern European countries, countries in central Europe, that agreed with our basic position: that dealing with the illegal migration issue requires European solidarity.
European solidarity that must be achieved in practice. With an upgrading of Frontex; that is, with a greater presence of vessels in the Aegean, for example, to guard borders. But at the same time, with economic participation in handling migrants, who we must never forget, and this is being discussed a lot in Greece right now � are human beings.
They are human beings who have rights, human beings who are desperate, human beings without financial means, human beings who invest all their hopes in a boat and come across.
So our handling of them must be humanitarian, and that is what Greece will do with the reception centers that we are setting up. But we need help and we need the treaties, which also have to be humanitarian , treaties for their repatriation.
Journalist: This issue will be discussed on Friday morning, on the second day of the European Council. I would like to ask you, with regard to the substance of the discussion: What is Greece pursuing in terms of the text of the final conclusions, and what do you expect in terms of the initiatives that will be undertaken by the Swedish Presidency?
Ms. Bakoyannis: We had a long discussion about the text today. The current draft of the text does not satisfy us. What we want is for specific mention to be made of the repatriation that I mentioned earlier; that is, specific reference to conditions under which the European Union will sign agreements with states, so that we, as the European Union, can repatriate people who come.
At the same time, explicit reference to specific countries. There are essentially two countries that illegal migrants transit or originate from and that are currently engaging Europe: Turkey and Libya. So there has to be a specific policy on these countries, and of course on the economic support that I talked about for managing and upgrading Frontex within Greek territory.