04 October, 2004
Greece's minister of the interior Procopis Pavlopoulos put forward Greece's proposal for the creation of a European Coast Guard, and briefed his EU counterparts on the Athens government's positions vis-a-vis cooperation with non-EU countries in the management of migration, at an informal meeting of the EU Interior and Justice Ministers at The Hague, a ministry announcement said on Saturday.
Pavlopoulos stressed the need for intensifying exchanges of information and setting up a joint Coast Guard which would carry out continuous patrols in the Mediterranean region, in cooperation with the European Sea Border Centers that have already been set up and were operating in the Greek port city of Piraeus and the Spanish city of Madrid, and, in the future, with the European Service for the Management of External Borders.
The Greek minister underlined the problem of illegal immigration to Europe via the sea, which was mainly centered in the Mediterranean region, and noted that cooperation could efficiently serve as a preventive means in combatting illegal immigration in general, and sea-borne organized crime more specifically.
"We must not forget that the alertness of all of us inside the European Union requires the effective safeguarding of our external sea and land borders, particularly in the sensitive region of the Mediterranean, which is the weakest link in the chain of joint actions on combatting terrorism and organized crime in all its forms," Pavlopoulos told the EU Council of Interior and Justice ministers.
Pavlopoulos strongly objected to a proposal on the prospect of establishing "reception centers" for illegal immigrants outside of Europe, particularly in countries of northern Africa, adding that "the issue, for the very security of Europe, is the reinforcement and efficient guarding of the European borders in order to avert illegal immigration by sea.
However, he added, "from that moment that, in whatever way and precisely due to the lack of preventive measures, the illegal immigrants reach the EU member states, they must have the treatment -- particularly with respect to human value and human rights -- mandated by the Community lawful order itself, and particularly by the Constitutional Treaty, regardless of the fact that it has yet to be enacted...and these parameters do not allow the establishment of such 'reception centers' for illegal immigrants".
Pavlopoulos further said that Greece supported, in general lines, the Dutch EU presidency's proposal regarding cooperation with non-EU countries in the management of migration, with respect to the entry and repatriation of immigrants, but stressed that the authority belonged to the EU member states, and was exercised chiefly on the basis of the criteria of national security, social cohesion and viable development.
Source: Athens News Agency