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EU Cooperation on Immigration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  “The problem is not a Greek problem, it is a European problem, because if one illegally enters Greece one also illegally enters the EU and the Netherlands,” said the Netherlands’ Deputy Justice Minister, responsible for immigration issues, Nebahat Albayrak, on Wednesday (May 27) after visiting an illegal immigrants’ reception centre on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.  “Certainly many problems exist, but we also have many possibilities for cooperation, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within the framework of the European Union between member-states,” added the Dutch official who earlier this week had talks in Athens with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

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Greece: 30 Years in EU

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    May 28, 1979 was an historic day for Greece, as it was the day Greece’s accession treaty to the European Union was signed.  30 years have elapsed since, and to commemorate the landmark date, a ceremony took place yesterday at the Zappeion Hall, the same venue where the inaugural treaty was signed.    To honour the event, a special guest who had attended the historic signing, attended the celebration yesterday: Former French President and European Convention on the Future of Europe President Valery Giscard D’Estaing (see photo, on the left) was an ardent supporter of the European vision and a close friend of then Prime Minister Konstantinos  Karamanlis, who also shared his vision of a united EuropeDuring these thirty years of Greek-European relations, adherence to the European institutions has been unequivocally endorsed by both the political elite and the people.  Despite conflicting interests among member states, Greece enters the European dialogue with a clear pro-European, pro-integrationist frame of mind.  It has already backed cooperation within the EU and has expressed its support for the Lisbon Treaty, a closer cooperation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy and future enlargement towards the Balkans.

Baghdad-Athens Flight Take-0ff Soon

iraqi_air3( www.minpress.grGreek and Iraqi transport authorities signed a pact that could open the way for direct flights between Baghdad and the European Union.  The accord gives Iraqi Airways the option of opening a route between Baghdad and Athens, which would be the first European Union destination for flights from Iraq’s capital. 
No date was announced to begin the flights. Read more…

9 May: Europe Day

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Europe Day is celebrated annually on May 9, and this year’s events will take place in Thessaloniki, beginning today until May 10. The theme is “A Social Europe at its Citizens’ Service.” European Parliament – Office for Greece: www.europarl.gr (in Greek)

 

EU Heads in Athens

» International Biodiversity Conference

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was welcomed  in Athens in order to attend a two-day international conference on “Biodiversity Protection Beyond 2010” hosted by Greece (April 27-28). Some 230 representatives of EU member states, NGOs, European enterprises and UN agencies discussed EU policy on biodiversity, as 2010 will be a major milestone for biodiversity policy both in the EU and globally. Addressing the event, Barroso underlined the significance of protecting biodiversity, shifting from “business as usual,” to a new model, hopefully shaped by this new “message emitting from Athens.” 

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis praised Greece for its high quality biodiversity amongst Mediterranean and European countries, but stressed that environmental protection ought to know no geographic boundaries. Taking the floor, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas warned that the world cannot turn its back on climate change and on any pressing matters of environmental protection. European Commission: Follow the Conference on-line & Dimas on biodiversity

» Remarks on Greek Economy

Meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Barroso welcomed Greece’s plans to tackle microeconomic imbalances and deliver on structural reforms. The Greek government has pledged to rein in the country’s deficit by 2010 (a fall to less than 3% of GDP), in keeping with EU’s proposed measures on fiscal policy.

» Honours Bestowed

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso received  (April 27) distinction from the Hellenic Parliament and the City of Athens. Hellenic Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas decorated Barroso with the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament, while Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis awarded Barroso the Medal of Honour and Benefaction of the City of Athens.

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.

FRONTEX Guards the EU Borders

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras recently signed a declaration for the supply of equipment with the European agency  Frontex – an EU body created to coordinate the operational cooperation between member-states in the field of border security – to curb illegal immigration into Europe. The effective handling of illegal migration is a particular concern to the EU and, of course, to Greece, whose national borders are also Schengen area borders in their entirety and EU external limits for the most part. The need for action becomes more urging since, lately, increased illegal migrant flows have been observed at the country’s eastern – land and maritime – borders. Greece participates actively in shaping a common European Surveillance System (EUROSUR) for all external land and maritime borders, in building the European Patrol Network, as well as in promoting the creation of a European Coast Guard, which was a Greek initiative. Frontex executive director Ikka Laitinen said that Greece was doing what it should but was faced with an exceptionally difficult task that had to be carried out in a difficult area and a difficult environment. Athens News Agency: Greece signs deal with Frontex; Hellenic Migration Policy Institute: www.imepo.gr & Statistical Data on Immigrants in Greece; Migrants in Greece: www.migrantsingreece.org; European Commission: Towards a Common Immigration Policy & A maritime Policy for the EU