27 migrants, rescued by a greek tanker, disembark from a vessel of Hellenic Coast Guard in the port of Kardamena, Kos Island, Dodecanese, Greece, 10 August 2022 | Photo: EPA / HELLENIC COAST GUARD
27 migrants, rescued by a greek tanker, disembark from a vessel of Hellenic Coast Guard in the port of Kardamena, Kos Island, Dodecanese, Greece, 10 August 2022 | Photo: EPA / HELLENIC COAST GUARD

Greece has called on the European Union to work together with Athens to address the issues of irregular migration and human trafficking.

Greece's Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi has called on his European counterparts once more to provide a European model to combat human trafficking that creates "a better border protection mechanism".

Greek authorities had a particularly busy summer with thousands of migrants attempting to enter Europe via Greece's sea and land borders despite new, increased security measures.

Mitarachi, addressing the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Monday (September 19) in Athens, reiterated that it was high time for a Euopean-wide solution.

'Europe needs a vision to manage immigration' 

"There is a common vision that Europe needs for the management of immigration, this should be considered as an integrated issue as it intersects with economic development, labor mobility and security," said Mitarachi in his speech, which was also published on the ministry's website.

Mitarachi spoke about "a common challenge for Europe", stressing that since now the vast majority of arrivals do not come directly from a country of risk, as defined in the Geneva Convention, instead the smuggling networks, making a fortune, are those ones who choose who comes and lives in Europe.

"In order to avoid what is happening today, the countries of first reception points [including Greece] are facing an unequal, and unfair burden on their borders, and so a model must be developed that requires a better border protection mechanism," he added. Mitarachi explained that Greece often has to face all three of those challenges, and sometimes at the same time.

Special group for human rights

Finally, Greece's Minister of Migration and Asylum stated that he has "set up a special group for fundamental rights. While the Ministry has also requested the Ombudsman and the National Commission for Human Rights to participate as full members," and talked about the successful management of migrants from Greece, talking about the reduction of the flows of people, the reducing populations in camps, and the creation of the Closed and Controlled Reception Centers in Samos, Kos, and Leros, as well as the improvement of the facilities in Lesvos, Chios and Evros.

"The goal is to create an innovative, fully digital asylum system without bureaucracy, thus increasing efficiency. Still, immigration is one of the main challenges facing Europe in turbulent times and that there must be collective, effective management systems, but the most important thing is to face the issue together." 

Greece has faced repeated accusations of engaging in pushbacks of migrants at sea, which are illegal under international law, as they don't allow people to apply for asylum before potentially being rejected. The Greek government says it is merely protecting its borders but not engaging in pushbacks. Meanwhile, Greek officials have also accused Turkey of trying to push migrants towards Greece.

 

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