Greece is well aware that some European countries do not view a common migration policy as an immediate priority, which is why the country will push for the implementation of a single asylum system and a more coordinated management of illegal immigration in Europe during its EU Presidency.
“Without safety and security we cannot have economic recovery,” said Nikos Dendias, Greek Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, to reporters in Athens and added, “we need a more integrated and effective management of the borders.”
For Greece, the issue of immigration is not only humanitarian, but also an economic and political problem, particularly in connection with the upcoming EU elections in May, which is already seeing far-right parties setting up anti-immigration campaigns.
During its Presidency of the EU Council, Greece intends to not only find ways to mitigate the impact of new migratory flows coming from troubled areas of Africa and the Middle East, but also pave the way for more legal migration, which would benefit the economic recovery.
Greece intends to initiate a debate on equally sharing the burden of new migratory flows across the 28 EU member-states, in contrast to existing and new regulations coming into force in July, 2015. According to these regulations, immigrants can seek asylum only in the country of entry in the EU and that country must process the applications of asylum seekers.
“You have to explain why a country of 10 million has to deal with 1.5 million refugees, alone” questioned Evangelos Venizelos, Greece’s foreign minister.
Greece, which is the main point of entry for over 50% of recorded illegal immigrants, has reinforced security measures since 2012 with the help of Frontex, the EU’s border management agency, especially along the border of Turkey, reducing the number of illegal refugees entering the country.