On Tuesday, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the Minister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias, focusing on the immigration issue in Greece. In particular, they presented Malmström with Greece’s revised system for processing the asylum claims of immigrants and monitoring migration flows. Dendias said the government was aiming at “more effective yet humanitarian action.”
The Commissioner commented on her twitter account, that Greece has made significant progress with its immigration and asylum policies, while praising the charitable work of the Municipality of Athens. She added that “the EU will continue to support the country.”
Moreover, the head of the EU delegation in Greece Panos Karvounis commented that Mrs. Malmström’s visit is especially important, given Greece’s geographic position and passageway to other EU countries. Mr. Karvounis noted that the European Commissioner’s visit is closely tied to the upcoming Greek EU presidency, since immigration will be a main priority.
The Commissioner underlined, that periods of detention at Greek reception facilities can stretch to up to two years and that there have been reports of immigrants being “pushed back” to neighboring Turkey by Greek authorities.
A new European Commission report found that Greece has improved its efforts in this area, after the launch of a European border surveillance system that allows the 18 member states in the Schengen area to coordinate border protection efforts.
The Ministry of Public Order’s newly-formed Asylum Services announced that there have been 4,189 applications for international protection since the 7th of June 2013, of which 1,670 applications have been addressed. A total of 213 applications were successful, resulting in a 12.8 percent rate.
Greece was put under supervision in 2010 due to shortfalls in its border protection system.