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19 July, 1999
A new institutional framework covering immigration policy is being developed by the interior ministry in collaboration with the public order, labour and foreign affairs ministries, the government announced.
The new policy, initially unveiled by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, also pertains to combatting crime through a series of measures aimed at increasing citizens' security. The application of the current legal framework and the implementation of stricter measures is under review in order to eliminate illegal immigration.
In addition, the public order ministry announced that authorities have been instructed to actively enforce a provision of law 1975/1991 prescribing a minimum of three months in jail and a 100,000-drachma fine for anyone employing non-EU foreigners without a valid work permit, as well as a minimum of six months in jail and a 300,000-drachma fine for repeat offences.
Other proposals under review include a stricter and more systematic check on foreign workers in Greece as well as on the issuance of work and residency permits, while a recommendation for assigning the issuance of green and white cards to local and prefectural authorities is pending.
A draft law on immigration policy had been developed by former interior minister Alekos Papadopoulos, which provided for the immediate arrest and deportation of panhandlers and illegal street vendors as well as the establishment of three coordinating im migration bodies on the inter-ministerial, regional and prefectural levels.
The interior ministry will nevertheless proceed with a complete revision of the draft law, taking into consideration bilateral relations and international agreements.
Meanwhile, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis over the weekend warned of a new wave of illegal immigration towards Greece, however, this time from Serbia.
In a published interview with the Sunday "Kathimerini", Mr. Chrysohoidis reiterated the government's determination to curb illegal immigration and all criminal activity.
He said police were concentrating on detecting criminal gangs involved in weapons smuggling, drugs and prostitution, while he added that checks by police on whether non-EU foreigners in Greece were legally registered would continue.
On Friday, PM Simitis underlined the government's determination to ensure public safety, less than 24 hours after a successful raid to free hostages on an intercity bus hijacked by a grenade-totting Albanian national.
It was the second time in two months that an apparently disgruntled Albanian worker had hijacked an intercity bus with passengers aboard. In both instances the hijackers were gunned down, while a Thessaloniki-area hostage was also accidentally killed by Albanian police in the first hijacking.
In a related development, Thessaloniki police are continuing their investigation into whether the hijacker had accomplices.
Source: Athens News Agency