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Main points of the Alternate Minister of Migration Policy, Mr. G. Mouzalas' Interview in the German newspapers Frankfurter Rundschau and Handelsblatt

Friday, 22 January 2016

Main points of the Alternate Minister of Migration Policy, Mr. G. Mouzalas’ Interview in the German newspapers FrankfurterRundschau and Handelsblatt

• The refugee crisis and the migration issue can’t be resolved at national level. The closure of borders would mean that there isn’t a common European policy. Europe has to respond in a unified manner, because solitary national paths may cause a dangerous domino effect.

• Greece constitutes the initial part of the refugees’ journey. Nevertheless, the gateway lies in Turkey.

• Several circles in the EU want to punish Greece with expulsion from the Schengen Area, mainly driven by internal political motives. The position of the EU is to strengthen cohesion in the Schengen area and to safeguard its external borders more effectively. This is also the view of the Greek Government.

• Greece’s land borders are guarded perfectly. But in the Aegean Sea, we are obliged to comply with the Geneva Convention, that is to rescue refugees entering our territorial waters and to bring them safely ashore. I recently invited all of the accredited Ambassadors of EU Member States to Greece, together with whom we arrived by a Hellenic Coast Guard vessel to our maritime borders with Turkey. We saw the refugees’ boats and I asked them: ‘Can you please tell me in which way we can better secure these borders?’ I think that, there, they understood the problem.

• The only solution is to tackle the traffickers on the Turkish shores and to convince the refugees not to board those boats putting their lives at risk. Once they are at sea, we are morally and legally obliged to rescue them.

• There is the impression that Greece doesn’t want FRONTEX. This is wrong and it is used as a game. Greece needs more FRONTEX than what Europe is giving us. We asked for 1800 personnel and we only received 800. We need 100 patrol vessels. We asked for 100 finger printing machines and we received only 45. 15 of which came from Germany.

• Germany kept Europe united in this crisis and contributed in keeping Europe n in the Enlightenment rather than drifting back to the Medieval era. This is largely due to Mrs. Merkel’s policy. We ought to recognize that Germany has taken in 90% of all refugees. This has created tension in its interior but I hope it will be resolved in the best way for human rights and European spirit.

• Turkey undertook the responsibility to restrain the refugee flows. I don’t believe this is happening. However, I respect Turkey for taking in 2,5 million refugees. Nonetheless, it is a fact that the refugees are coming from the Turkish shores and only there can the problem be resolved.

• Europe must help Turkey in fulfilling its obligations.

• As far as the hotspots are concerned we are falling behind. In Lesvos it is already operational, and in Chios, Samos and Leros they will be completely operational by the end of January. We are being criticized for falling behind and the criticism is correct. The delay is due to the difficulty to manage inflows of such magnitude and especially in providing shelter. We understand the criticism, but let’s not forget that the islands have limited reception capacities, with daily arrivals exceeding their permanent population.

• We have a closed system of identification at the hotspots and we propose that it be harmonized with the databases of international criminal tracking systems such as Europol and Interpol, so as to promptly identify suspects or wanted criminal offenders at the time of registration, something that can be effected immediately. 

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