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Immigration Policy:Interview of Giorgos Tsarbopoulos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In an interview with a Greek daily (Ta Nea), Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, head of the Greek branch of United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) comments on the government’s decision to overhaul Greece’s migration policy.
Tsarbopoulos admits that the draft law on granting citizenship to immigrants is a positive initiative but needs to be supplemented.
He says that naturalisation should be the first step within a broader social integration policy. Similarly, asylum policy needs to be enhanced by a well organised hospitality and welfare safety net.
What is important about the new asylum policy is that it disassociates itself from the police and that a new independent body is created to address the issue.
UNHCR recognises that within the European Union, the Dublin II Regulation has placed a disproportionate burden on Greece and advises other EU countries not to send back asylum seekers when their reception is deemed precarious. 
Greek News Agenda: UN Refugees High Commissioner in Athens & A Joint Letter on Immigration; UNHCR: 2010 Regional Operations Profile – Greece
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President of Hellenic Republic Briefed on Immigration Agenda

Pavlopoulos - Papoulias(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The course of Greece’s migration policy was the topic of discussion between President Karolos Papoulias and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Addressing the press, the minister mentioned that Greece “has played a decisive role in drafting the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum as well as in the evolution of Frontex –an agency monitoring EU’s external boarders-, which is now conducting operations in the Eastern Mediterranean all-year-round”. The minister also stressed that Turkey’s obligation to fulfill the terms of its bilateral agreement with Greece on illegal migration has now become an obligation of European-wide dimensions, paving the way for the signing of an EU-Turkey readmission agreement by the end of 2009.   Greek News Agenda: Immigration Agenda 2010-2014

EU Migration Agenda 2010 – 2014

passport1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The Informal Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs, which is taking place from July 15 until July 17 in Stockholm, discussed the guidelines of a 2010-2014 agenda on illegal migration, according to which, EU members agree to boost funding for Greece and other member states guarding the European Union’s external borders and call upon Turkey to cooperate on curbing illegal immigration.  In addition, EU ministers agreed to support efforts to strengthen the EU border-control agency Frontex and to create a Common European Asylum applying to all incoming migrants. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that guarding the Union’s borders is not purely a Greek problem but an EU affair, which requires close cooperation among the member states.  Pavlopoulos said that he is pleased to see that the European Pact on Migration and Asylum signed in Paris becomes a solid base for further negotiations and stressed that there is a difference between addressing migrants’ reception upon arrival, asylum granting procedures and legal migrants’ integration in a society.

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.