FM on illegal migration problem, Frontex

The joint operation “Poseidon”, held in cooperation with EU border agency Frontex since 2006 for the protection of the external borders of Greece and the EU, will continue in 2011.

A document signed by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, conveyed to Parliament in response to a question by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP Theodoros Karaoglou on the problem of illegal migration, reminded that “operation ‘Poseidon’ is in underway at Greece’s sea borders with Turkey and at the land borders with Albania and Turkey, as well as along the borders shared by Bulgaria and Turkey”.

The foreign minister stressed that this is the largest joint operation coordinated by FRONTEX currently underway at European level and stated that is planned to continue on a permanent basis (throughout 2011) along Greece’s sea and land borders with Turkey.

Droutsas underlined, however, that “the rapid increase recorded in 2010 in the number of illegal migrants coming from Turkey made necessary the adoption of additional measures to tackle the deteriorating situation.”

The measures include the deployment of Frontex's Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABITS) along Greece’s land borders with Turkey between Nov. 2010 and March 3, 2011 following a request by the Greek government, and the construction of a fence in a section of the land borders shared by Greece and Turkey.

“A necessary precondition to tackle the phenomenon is to strengthen cooperation with Turkey, which is the main country through which illegal migrants pass before crossing into Greece and the rest EU members,” Droutsas stressed, reminding that “the Turkish side sees positively the prospect of the construction of the fence”.

Droutsas stressed that Greece wishes a closer cooperation with Turkey based on the existing legal framework as regards the implementation of relevant agreements, adding that on bilateral level, Greece seeks the improvement of the implementation of the Bilateral Readmission Protocol through regular meetings of experts to address the weak points in the cooperation and proceed with a more effective implementation.

Specifically, in an effort to combat illegal migration, the port of Dikili, near Izmir, has been defined as readmission border point for illegal migrants as of Jan. 11, 2011 to facilitate the readmission process.

On European level, the completion of negotiations and the signing of the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement will benefit the Greek-Turkish and Euro-Turkish relations, Droutsas said, stressing that “this agreement should constitute a practical tool in combating and preventing illegal migration and be in compliance with the European standards”.

He also underlined that Greece has firmly sought the signing of readmission agreements between the EU and third countries like Egypt, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq as provided by the Stockholm Programme, as well as, the immediate completion and signing of agreements currently under negotiation with Turkey, Algeria and Morocco.

“Greece also seeks the continuation of negotiations for bilateral readmission protocols with countries from which illegal migrants originate, such Bangladesh, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria,” the foreign minister underlined.

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