09 October, 2007
Today, Tuesday, 9 October 2007, a working luncheon on illegal migration and ways to confront it was held at the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis, Interior Minister Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, National Defense Minister Mr. Evaggelos Meimarakis, Mercantile Marine, Aegean & Island Policy Minister Mr. Georgios Boulgarakis, Deputy Minister for Public Order Mr. Panagiotis Hinofotis and Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Yannis Valinakis participated in the meeting.
An in-depth assessment and evaluation of the illegal migration phenomenon in our country was carried out, and means for effectively addressing and managing it were examined based on the following observations:
· The phenomenon of illegal migration, which is becoming more intense, is particularly complicated and complex with regard to both its causes and means for confronting it.
· It is a challenge of an international nature that can be addressed only through coordinated, comprehensive, international and interstate cooperation, based on respect for International Law and International Treaties, with particular emphasis on humanitarian law as well as other international legal texts, such as the Convention on the Law of the sea.
· The effective handling of illegal migration is a particular concern to the European Union and, of course, to Greece, whose national borders are also Schengen area borders in their entirety and EU external borders for the most part.
· Greece participates actively in all the relevant policies, initiatives and actions of the EU for combating illegal migration. Beyond the Schengen area, we participate in the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union, known as FRONTEX. We are also participating actively in shaping a common European Surveillance System (EUROSUR) for all external land and maritime borders, in building the European Patrol Network, and of course in promoting the creation of a European Coast Guard, which was a Greek initiative.
· For all of these efforts to have a positive outcome, A) optimum coordination of all co-competent Ministries and agencies is necessary on a national level, and B) the further strengthening of cooperation with and support from the EU is of particularly critical importance.
· On an inter-state level, Greece places particular emphasis on bolstering cooperation with all of its neighbouring and bordering countries.
· In order for the necessary international and interstate cooperation to be substantial, it must be based on well-processed and efficient national policies with a view to managing and tackling illegal migration.
· Insufficient or inefficient national policies that not only fail to address illegal migration, but actually encourage it, particularly vis-a-vis neighbouring states.
· Within this framework, increased illegal migrant flows have been observed lately at the country's eastern – land and maritime – borders.
· Particularly with regard to this point, apart taking specific measures in order to further strengthen its own policy, Greece expects that Turkey will respond and cooperate in a corresponding manner, within the framework of the existing bilateral cooperation between the two countries’ competent authorities, and that a readmission agreement will be signed between the EU and Turkey soon , given the lack of substantial progress in the relevant negotiations which is a cause of particular concern for Greece.