European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson wrapped up her visit to Greece by meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
During their meeting, according to information from the Greek government, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Ylva Johansson discussed, among other things, the Commission’s proposal for a new Migration and Asylum Pact. The proposal is about tackling the issue of immigration-refugees, with the first host countries currently bearing a disproportionate amount of burden.
Both sides agreed that substantial improvements are needed on the basis of solidarity, so that full responsibility for managing the migration issue does not pass exclusively to the front-line Member States.
The need for full implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration of 18 March 2016 on effective problem management was also stressed. Finally, they discussed developments regarding the reception of refugees and immigrants in Greece.
Shortly afterwards, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis who also offered his reception on several occasions, as well as by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.
According to diplomatic sources, the external dimension of the migrant-refugee issue, as well as the implementation of the EU-Turkey declaration were discussed during the meeting. Finally, special mention was made of the North African countries.
Regarding the external dimension of the migration-refugee issue, the Greek side stressed the need for the European Union to promote readmission agreements with third countries, as well as the importance of including a special clause for cooperation in the field of migration in the EU association agreements with third countries. In this context, there were calls for a positive approach with countries cooperating with the EU, and respectively sanctions for those who do not (“more for more, less for less”).
Particularly for Turkey, a special reference was made to the fact that the country in question no longer accepts returns from Greece, as required by the provisions of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration 2016, and that migration is another tool in neighboring countries’s hands to pursue his foreign policy. It was stressed that the implementation of the joint declaration should also cover the Euro.
At the same time, it was stressed that Greece maintains a very constructive stance, being one of the few countries that continue to be open to Turkey’s European perspective, with the well-known conditionality of course, as well as with visa liberalization.
The Greek side also reminded that the country has not expressed its opposition to the decisions so far to finance the needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey, but also underlined that in the future funds should be given to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
Finally, the Greek side stressed the key role that Egypt plays in stopping the waves of migration, something that the European Union should take into account in the context of its relations with this country.
Special mention was made of Libya, for which it was stressed that the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the country will not only improve the security situation, but will also contain Turkey’s ability to control another migration route to Europe.