Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria have decided to undertake a joint initiative for tackling migration in the Eastern Mediterranean, which they will present at the European Union’s Justice and Home Affairs Council on October 7-8 in Luxembourg.
The news comes as five boats carrying a total of 191 migrants landed on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Thursday. These arrivals are on top of the 213 migrants who reached Lesvos on Wednesday.
According to a statement by the Citizen Protection Ministry, it is the first such joint initiative of the front-line member-states in the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to European External Action Service data, between August 19 and September 1, there were 4,879 migrants and refugees who landed on Greek shores via the eastern Mediterranean route, 1,133 who came via the Western Mediterranean and 1,369 who used the central Mediterranean route.
The plan from the three countries, entitled “Eastern Mediterranean Migration Route Initiative,” will be formally presented with specific documents to the EU justice and interior ministers attending next week’s council.
The presentation follows the visits of Alternate Citizen Protection Minister George Koumoutsakos to Cyprus and Bulgaria.
The three countries encourage the EU and the other EU member states to agree to the allocation of more resources to the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and commit more funds to tackling refugee and migration issues in the 2021-2026 EU budget.
The aim of the initiative is also to highlight the European dimension of the great migration challenge faced by Eastern Mediterranean states, so that the EU can take concrete measures in the context of Community solidarity.
According to these three nations, this should include relocations and a strong policy for returns to third countries, as well as supporting the countries directly affected by the enormous influx of migrants.
The three countries also advocate effective implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement by eradicating migrant trafficking networks, preventing the establishment of new illegal migration routes across Europe and ensuring effective returns.