Relocation on the table of EU Interior Ministers Council – The positions of Greece

Relocation on the table of EU Interior Ministers Council – The positions of Greece

Athens, March 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Cooperation projects with Turkey on the basis of new proposals and the implementation of the process of resettlement, issues which should be decided at the forthcoming summit, dominated the first day of the Council of Ministers of Internal Affairs of the EU. Our goal is to reach 6,000 relocations per month, Immigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said after the Council of EU interior ministers in Brussels.

Mr. Avramopoulos said that until now there have been around 800 relocations, but the intention of the majority of EU member states is to have more results.

“If relocation does not work, the system may collapse”, D. Avramopoulos warned, stressing that now all hotspot are operational and there is 100% of registrations. The Greek commissioner also stressed that all the financial tools should be used to support Greece so as to be able to accommodate 100,000 refugees and immigrants.

“The corridor has closed. Now we all need to stand on the side of Greece”, said for his part, Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice, who presided on the Council, Klaas Dijkhoff, emphasizing the need to proceed with the relocation or resettlement scheme and the sending of staff from member states to Frontex .

Asked about the conditions that should be met by Turkey in order to be recognised as “safe third country”, D. Avramopoulos said that according to international and European legislation, three principles must be there: not to have a persecution risk, to not have illegal deportations and to have the possibility to request asylum and recognition under the Geneva Convention. “Turkey meets most criteria and European aid contributed to the financing of specific projects in order to improve conditions and ensure safety for refugees there”, he added.

The positions of Greece

The implementation of the parameters of the action plan with Turkey, based on the results of the last summit, examined yesterday the EU Council of Interior Ministers, according to Deputy Minister of Migration Policy, Yannis Mouzala from Brussels.

Υ. Mouzalas also said that after a long time it was discussed “with a seriousness that corresponds to current conditions” the question of increasing the relocation and resettlement from Turkey. He stressed that for the first time many member states (except the Eastern European countries) said they would participate and promised to increase the number of relocation, while they fully committed to meet the needs of Frontex and of the EASO.

According to Y. Mouzalas, the Greek side raised the issue of increased migration, while recalled the mandatory character and proposed practical solutions on how to help Turkey to participate in solving the problem. On the issue of the readmission, he stressed that Greece has asked the EU for help to proceed as fast as possible, without taking away the rights of refugees.

On the question of Turkey’s designation as “safe third country” Y. Mouzalas expressed the estimation of the Greek side that as long as Turkey is home to 2.5 million refugees and the EU and the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) intervene to check the living conditions in the camps and whether human rights are being respected, Turkey is a “safe third country”.

Furthermore, Y. Mouzalas said that the EU Council of Interior Ministers discussed the “ongoing humanitarian crisis in Greece” and suggested measures to address it. As he said, it was stressed the need for EU Member States to participate by helping both with materials and financially, in order to have a direct disbursement of funds to meet the needs of refugees.