“Europe should be present in the crisis and send a clear and strong message to every direction that it will offer humanitarian and economic assistance where necessary helping in the strengthening of democratic institutions. However, it will not tolerate illegal migrants uncontrollably crossing its external borders and staying on its territory,” Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis stressed on Thursday.
Referring to the conclusions of the six EU Mediterranean interior ministers meeting, held in Rome on Wednesday, and calling on the EU to take specific measures against illegal migration, Papoutsis stressed that “the continuous expansion and extension of the crisis is a cause for concern considering that its impact and the increasing flow of illegal migrants could affect our tourist regions and therefore, have a negative effect on our effort aimed at improving the economic situation in Greece.”
Papoutsis said that despite its economic problems, Greece helps nationals of third countries that are in crisis regions, as in the case of Libya.
The common positions of the six EU Mediterranean member-states (Greece, France, Italy, Malta, Cyprus) were presented at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
In a joint statement the six countries pointed out that they already face dramatic consequences which cause great concern across the European Union.
They stressed that thousands of illegal migrants from Tunisia moved toward the coasts of southern Italy within a period of just a few days further increasing the existing pressures on the EU external borders in SE Europe.
The communiqué warned of the danger of “uncontrolled flows of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers into Europe, with serious consequences and potential risks to EU internal security,” in case more entry routes for illegal migrants open in the Mediterranean region.
The six EU Mediterranean member-states called on the EU to proceed with the adoption of nine measures namely, make the Mediterranean issue a central point in the community agenda; build a new relation with the southern neighboring states and take under consideration the difficulties with which EU states are met faced with disproportionate flows of illegal migrants.
Also, the EU is called to acknowledge the need and urgency of the strategies on issues of security, migration and asylum; encourage bilateral cooperation on migration issues; strengthen the role of Frontex; establish a common and viable asylum system in the EU by the end of 2012; promote regional assistance programmes in southern Mediterranean in cooperation with the UN and set up a special solidarity fund to handle the humanitarian crisis.