Greece: Migration, a Top Priority

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Being a border region of Europe, Greece has being experiencing a migration influx from both land and sea. The figures speak for themselves: 150,000 immigrants were arrested in Greece in 2008, while arrests of traffickers in illegal immigration increased by more than 40% within the last two years. Faced with the intricacy of the situation and in accordance with its 2009 national programme on migration, Greece first accelerates absorption rates of EU funds earmarked for relevant purposes. In addition, red tape on residence permits is cut down, while in 2008, some 9,000 individuals were granted Greek nationality. Moreover, through a special programme (“Aeneas”), Greece creates comprehensive partnerships with the countries of origin and of transit to ensure the return of the illegal immigrants and progressively establish synergies between migration and development.

» Collaborating with the EU

The guidelines for all the above actions are provided by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, to which Greece adheres fully. Asylum tops the list of issues to be considered. A European legislative framework of reference is imperative. Greece abides by international law and secures the right of every foreign immigrant individually to apply for asylum. (Some 25,000 applied in 2007). Creating a favourable environment for those granted access is equally important, always in measure of each country’s reception capacity. However, before facing the necessity to deal with immigration, it is in every member state’s interest to contain the phenomenon altogether. External boarders should be policed at all times and trafficking cracked down. Countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus should be endowed with supplementary resources. The European Union must intensify its cooperation with non EU transit countries implicated and prove more decisive when the latter do not cooperate despite the subsidy received with EU funds.