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Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs’

The Greek – Turkish diplomatic gaming with refugee lives continues while Jacques Barrot cruises the Agean…

Posted by clandestina on 30 June 2009

source:

http://www.ekathimerini.com/

Ankara snubs migrant repatriation pact

Asked about Greek calls for the reopening of the Orthodox Seminary on the island of Halki near Istanbul, Bagis said he backed it in principle but linked it to the thorny issue of the Muslim minority in Thrace. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay indicated, in an interview with the Turkish mass-circulation daily Milliyet, that Ankara was leaning toward reopening the seminary. “Both my personal and the general inclination is that the school will be opened,” Gunay was quoted as saying.

While Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday pledged to work together on bilateral issues in their first meeting on the sidelines of an international summit on Corfu, Turkey’s Minister for European Union Affairs revealed, in an interview published in yesterday’s Kathimerini, that Ankara would not be honoring a bilateral repatriation pact with Greece.

“We refuse to become the world’s biggest refugee camp,” Egemin Bagis said, noting that bilateral pacts such as the one signed by Athens and Ankara should only be honored if similar pacts are agreed between so-called transit countries for would-be migrants, such as Turkey, and countries of origin, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bagis also reiterated Ankara’s opposition to the idea of a special partnership for Turkey with the EU. “We will accept nothing less than full membership. There is no alternative.”

source: http://www.ana-mpa.gr

Visit to Samos migrant centre

European Commission Vice-president Jacques Barrot, responsible for justice, freedom and security, on Monday paid a visit to reception facilities for illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. In statements afterwards, he acknowledged that Greek authorities faced a difficult task but also stressed Greece’s obligation to provide a refuge for immigrants arriving on its shores.

“I understand the difficulty facing the Greek government, which finds itself having to deal with an ever increasing number of migrants, as well as the obligation for Community solidarity, but also that there is an obligation on the part of the Greek government to offer refuge to the foreigners that come here,” Barrot said.

The Commissioner, upon his arrival on the island, was given a tour of the French vessel belonging to the EU Frontex agency and visited the Migrant Reception Centre on the island, where he talked with immigrants detained there.

In statements to reporters, he said that this was a more general problem that cost human lives and required cooperation with non-EU countries of origin or transit in order to be solved.

Pavlopoulos declared himself satisfied with what he had seen at the Samos centre and what the Commissioner had witnessed regarding Greece’s efforts to tackle a problem that concerned all of Europe.

“It can be understood that Greece is currently receiving the greater number of illegal immigrants. It is making huge efforts to accelerate asylum processes but, as I explained to Mr. Barrot, and as he has himself acknowledged, this does not solve the more general problem that concerns illegal immigrants who are not seeking asylum,” the minister said.

According to Pavlopoulos, coping with the economic migrants required solidarity between EU nations.

“We must carry out the agreement for migration and asylum, which means signing readmission treaties and putting pressure on countries such as Turkey to honour those agreements that exist. The solution, as Mr. Barrot will explain in Athens on Tuesday, is to look at the root of the problem, and this means that we must stamp out all this illegal trafficking of migrants that exploits human lives,” he stressed.

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Greek Government’s “Six-point plan” for the war against immigrants in the Aegean

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2009

source: ministry of foreign affairs release

Article of Deputy Foreign Minister Valinakis in the Athens daily ‘Kathimerini’

The problem of illegal migrants is one of the 21st century’s global challenges. Europe and our country are at the heart of this global problem due to their geographical position as a gateway to Europe from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and we are exposed to these migratory pressures. This problem is particularly acute for our country’s border regions and, more specifically, our eastern border in the Aegean Sea.

For the past few years we have persistently and methodically tried to turn our positions into EU-27 positions because this problem cannot be understood easily by all the European countries, e.g., those countries without sea borders. Since 2004, Greece has been playing a leading role in the creation of a common, integrated European policy on these issues. The problem’s labyrinthine dimensions do not allow for oversimplification based on domestic interests. In fact, they require an integrated plan; that is, a mobilization of human and other resources, use of national and European means, partnerships, synergies, and painful negotiations.

Bearing this in mind, a network of complementary actions could relieve the islands of the Aegean from these pressures and lay the foundations for successful treatment of the problem. This network of actions is based on 6 axes:

1.         A ship of sufficient tonnage to be used as a first reception and transport centre. This ship will sail near the islands of the Aegean where illegal migrants have been arrested, it will take them on board and carry them to the reception centres already in, or due to be put into, operation. The ship must be equipped with the necessary logistics infrastructure so as to ensure a complete health check of illegal migrants and to cross-check their identification data in order to ascertain their country of origin reliably and in a timely manner.

2.         An immediate relaunching of EU-Turkey negotiations on the conclusion of a readmission agreement and an immediate implementation of the existing Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol. Given that these issues have become part of the framework of relations between the EU and Turkey, our neighbouring country is jeopardizing its European future by dragging its feet.

3.         Use of a specific port on the Turkish coast for the return of illegal migrants who have reached our country through Turkey. This will be a major step that will certainly contribute to the relief of our insular areas. The use of a Turkish harbour in conjunction with the operation of a ship as a reception centre creates the necessary conditions for the faster return of illegal migrants.

4.         Conclusion of European and bilateral readmission agreements with the countries of origin for the overwhelming majority of illegal migrants (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia). Development aid as well as political and economic cooperation can be used as leverage in speeding up the conclusion of these agreements.

5.         Intensification of joint operations on a permanent basis under FRONTEX, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union, on the way towards the creation of a European Coastguard. Our proposal for the creation of a specialised FRONTEX branch in Greece is included within the same framework.

6.         Full use of every potential for financing all the necessary actions with additional EU funds and utilization of European and bilateral programmes.

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