Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Thursday stressed that Greece cannot accept a return to pre-EU accession period practices as regards the Schengen pact and any restriction of free movement of European citizens in the EU and signatory countries. Speaking in Parliament in response to current questions by two main opposition New Democracy (ND) MPs, Papoutsis said the extraordinary council of ministers next week will discuss a package of ideas to reinforce the border control assessment mechanism, as well as, the potential for stricter border controls in case of emergency situations.
Papoutsis underlined that despite the criticism targeting the country, passport and other border controls will continue at the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa with the prospect of expanding to broader zones.
He added that “the worst has been avoided for the time being” as a result of the cooperation between the Hellenic Navy and Frontex in the regions south of Crete, the island of Rhodes and southern Peloponnese -- a reference to the crises in North Africa and European fears over a new wave of illegal immigration.
Papoutsis pointed out that in view of the new Frontex regulation he has recommended that, aside from its role as a deterrent, the European force also undertake the repatriation of illegal migrants.
ND MP Evangelos Antonaros agreed that free movement should not be restricted and called for measures in view of the summer season, measures that will discourage illegal migrants from attempting to breach European borders.
Finally, ND MP Thanassis Nakos referred to the problems in Igoumenitsa, in extreme northwest Greece, where scores illegal migrants have congregated in nearby hillsides in their bids to illicitly board Italy-bound ferry boats.