Karamanlis welcomes EU Summit agreement on illegal immigration
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his personal satisfaction with the decisions taken by the two-day European Union Summit in Brussels last week on the issue of illegal immigration.
It was agreed that the EU should seek to forge new repatriation pacts with migrants’ countries of origin and with “transit countries” such as Turkey and Libya.
In addition, existing bilateral pacts on repatriation, such as the one signed by Greece and Turkey in 2003, should be honored, delegates agreed.
Another significant decision highlighted by Karamanlis was to boost the activities of the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex to curb illegal immigration in the southeastern Mediterranean region.
However there was no response to Greece’s appeal for the creation of a joint European coast guard.
The EU initiatives are seen as a nudge for Turkey, which has failed to hold up its side of a bilateral pact with Greece to repatriate illegal immigrants arriving on Greek territory from the neighboring country.
“Greece’s positions were understood absolutely and taken into consideration in the conclusions,” Karamanlis told a press conference in Brussels, noting that leaders had agreed on the need to further “sensitise” Turkey to issues of migration as an EU candidate.
Karamanlis said the actions agreed to at the summit marked the climax of a long-standing diplomatic initiative which saw Karamanlis send personal letters to the other EU leaders as well as active lobbying by Greece’s diplomatic staff and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
Greece and other countries in the Union’s southern periphery - Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus - have recently been increasingly vocal in demanding EU support in coping with an ever-rising tide of illegal immigration from mostly Third World countries in the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
In briefing Greek reporters, Karamanlis emphasised that the Union also unanimously backs the position that Turkey must fully implement bilateral agreements it has signed for the re-admission of third party nationals that illegally enter other countries from its territory.
This point is a clear reference to a landmark 2001 re-admission protocol that Ankara signed with Athens, a pact that Ankara is reportedly failing to satisfactorily honor.
Karamanlis added, at this point, that Turkey’s actions and behaviour on this specific matter should now be closely scrutinised.
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