European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson wrapped up her visit to Greece by meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
During their meeting, according to information from the Greek government, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Ylva Johansson discussed inter alia the Commission’s proposal for the new Pact on Migration and Asylum. The proposal concerns tackling the immigration-refugee issue, with the first-host countries currently shouldering a disproportionate amount of the burden.
The two sides agreed that substantial improvements are needed on the basis of solidarity, so that full responsibility for managing the migration issue is not buck-passed exclusively to the front-line Member States.
The need for full implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration of 18 March 2016 for the effective management of the problem was also stressed. Finally, developments regarding the reception of refugees and immigrants in Greece were discussed.
Shortly afterwards, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
The meeting was also attended by Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis who also offered his intake on several occasions, as well as by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.
According to diplomatic sources, the external dimension of the migrant-refugee issue, as well as the implementation of the EU-Turkey declaration were examined during the meeting. Finally, special mention was made of North African countries.
Regarding the external dimension of the migration-refugee issue, the Greek side stressed the need for the European Union to promote the readmission agreements with third countries, as well as the importance of including a special clause for cooperation in the field of migration in the EU’s association agreements with third countries. In this context, calls were made for a positive approach with countries cooperating with the EU, and respectively sanctions for those who do not (“more for more, less for less”).
Particularly for Turkey, special reference was made to the fact that the country in-question no longer accepts returns from Greece, as required by the provisions of the 2016 EU-Turkey Joint Declaration, as well as that migration constitutes yet another tool in the neighboring country’s hands to pursue its foreign policy. It was pointed out that the implementation of the joint declaration should also cover Evros.
At the same time, it was stressed that Greece maintains a very constructive attitude, being one of the few countries that continue to be open to the European perspective of Turkey, with the well-known conditionality of course, as well as the liberalization of visas.
The Greek side also recalled that the country has not expressed its opposition to the decisions so far to finance the needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey, but also underlined that in the future funding should also be given to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
Finally, the Greek side pointed out the key role Egypt plays in stopping migration waves, something that the European Union should take into account in the context of its relations with this country.
Special mention was also made of Libya, for which it was stressed that the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the country will not only improve the security situation, but will also contain Turkey’s ability to control another migration route to Europe. /ibna