A joint announcement made by the Greek defense and migration ministries marked an end to the armed forces' involvement in managing the country's ongoing migration situation.
As of January 1, 2022, management and handling of all issues related to the arrival of refugees and migrants into Greece are handled exclusively by the country's migration ministry. The Greek defense minister, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, called the move "a special turning point in migration management."
Panagiotopoulos met Tuesday (January 4) with his counterpart from the migration ministry, Notis Mitarakis, to mark the disengagement of the armed forces from the management of accommodation facilities and specific provisions relating to the management of the migratory situation.
Duties of armed forces
Greece's armed forces were legally responsible for helping with the distribution of food in refugee and migrant facilities, with creating and building other facilities (such as reception structures), providing health care and maintenance work needed at migrant camps, and transporting materials and consumables to and from various facilities around the country.
As migrant arrivals to Greece continue to slow, the armed forces have now been relieved of all of those duties.
"The armed forces certainly and quite successfully handled assisting the State in the management of a complex issue ...," said Panagiotopoulos. "I believe they succeeded to an extremely satisfactory degree, but beyond that we also believe -- and this is our common belief -- that it is positive for each ministry to focus on their respective main missions."
Reception system crucial 'for shielding of country' - Mitarakis
Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said that "(T)he government regained control of migration, fulfilling its commitments to the Greek people."
He claimed that migrant populations have decreased on the islands, as well as on the mainland.
"We reduced flows this year to the lowest in a decade, down 99% compared to the crisis of 2015. As a result, in two years we have gone from operating 121 reception facilities to just 34, and we completed the recovery of their operational control by appointing a manager from the migration ministry at each facility."
He said that the completion of the national reception system "remains crucial for the shielding of the country, providing on the one hand appropriate living conditions for a short stay in the remote areas of the country, and on the other hand a strong sense of safety for local residents, staff and local communities."