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Greece desperately seeking to halt refugees and migrants flows

Greece is desperately seeking to halt the refugees and migrants flows and intensifies its contacts with Turkey and the European Union. Migration Policy Minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, is meeting with the Turkish Interior Minister and high ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on Thursday.

A delegation of the EU Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, and French counterpart, Christophe Castaner, are heading for Athens for meetings with their Greek counterpart. They may be visit also some refugees and migrants accommodation center or a hot spot on the islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea.

Greece plans to tighten the asylum procedures and increase the number of returns to Turkey in order to discourage refugees and migrants.

Until this happens, boats with refugees and migrants keep arriving in Greece. Between Wednesday and Thursday morning, ten boats with a total of 463 people arrived alone on Lesvos; 700 people from Tuesday to Thursday.

Briefing the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Koumoutsakos said that the flow of refugees has increased by 200% in the last five months.

45,600 people have arrived in Greece this year, form a total of 77,400 who arrived to Europe form the Mediterranean Sea.

Athens wants a strict separation of refugees and migrants its ambitious migration plan foresees the return to the country they came from “within 3 days” after their asylum request has been rejected.

According to government,  the number of Syrian refugees has decreased, the number of Afghans has increased.

“75% are Afghans, while many are Africans,” Koumoutsakos said.

Characteristic for New Democracy’s approach on the issue are the statements by Minister for Agricultural Development and Food, Makis Voridis.

“Illegal migrants have no right to humanitarian aid” he said on Tuesday, adding that the “refugees issue” has turned into a “migrants issue.”

“The analysis of these flows is 65% are Afghans, 15% from African countries, 10% from Tunisia, Morocco etc, there are Turks seeking asylum because they are being persecuted by Erdogan and Syrians are a few.” he stressed.

These people are “therefore illegal immigrants and do not qualify for humanitarian protection. They have human rights, which must be respected when examining an asylum application, but only to that extent, “he added..

According to the Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection, there are four reasons for the flows increase:

  • Istanbul has decided to implement a “vacuum cleaner” policy.
  • The bleak situation in Syria
  • Iran, which is home to a large Afghan population
  • Europe’s strained relations with Turkey since last May.

Despite the increased surveillance and the measures announced by the Greek government, the Coast Guard, and the Frontex, operate as observers.

When they spot boats carrying refugees and migrants, they generally do not attempt to repel them. The so-called “push back” is avoided because it involves risks.

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  1. Push-backs are illegal, contrary to Greek law, international law, and EU law. This is not only about physical risk: it is also a matter of lawful behaviour by a State.

    Moreover, Voridis’ statement on irregular migrants is totally incorrect. Greece is obliged to consider not only UN Convention asylum status, but also other humanitarian statuses for those who do not satisfy the strict requirements of the UN Convention. Their legal rights are potentially protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, 1950, which is more extensive than the UN Convention. Greece is bound fully by the ECHR, as a signatory and as a member of the EU.

    Essentially, Greece is the main conduit into the EU from the Near East. The problem is with the other EU member states, who thinks they can palm off their legal obligations onto Greece and Turkey. That is the underlying reason why the EU-Turkey Statement of 2016 is not valid in law, because the EU is afraid that EU courts will tear it to pieces. The whole situation is a disgraceful mess.

  2. When the ekected reoresentatives dio not understand EU and Greel law then there is cause fir concern – international protection, meeting the criteria fir refugee is not uniquely natiinality dependent , individual case hisotry is as, if not more, important