New Greek Government Pledges to “Immediately” Improve Refugee Living Conditions



New Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis presides over a meeting between the Greek governmental officials and a delegation from the European Commission, headed by Dimitris Avramopoulos. Photo by Kathimerini

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met on Monday with Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, at Maximos Mansion in Athens. The meeting set forth a six-point plan to improve the conditions under which refugees and migrants are currently living in Greece.

The PM also chaired a broader meeting attended by Commissioner Avramopoulos and government ministers responsible for migration, including Citizen Protection Minister Michael Chrisochoidis, as well as George Koumoutsakos, the Alternate Citizen Protection Minister responsible for migration policy, and Yiannis Plakiotakis, the Minister for Shipping and Island Policy.

The meeting established the new government’s priorities in this area, which they emphasized will always reflect their close cooperation with the EU, from which it will also receive technical assistance.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis asked his ministers to focus their actions on the immediate future on six specific areas. The issues will include the immediate improvement of living conditions for refugees and migrants in Greece, especially for vulnerable groups, with top priority given to the protection of unaccompanied children living in the country.

There will also be a strengthening of the protection of European borders, especially the maritime borders, with a new integrated plan which will place the European force (FRONTEX) under Greek command with clear operational rules of action.

It should be noted that this plan includes a better use of FRONTEX forces, more frequent Coast Guard patrols and improvements to its equipment and infrastructure, as well as the full use of European resources with full transparency.

By the end of 2019, there will also be a reform of the institutional framework for claiming asylum, aiming for the expeditious, fair and efficient delivery of relief for those in need.

The agreement also calls for the faithful implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration for managing migration and the relief of overcrowding on the Greek islands.

Completing work at the reception and identification center on the island of Samos to ensure decent and safe living conditions for refugees and migrants is also one of the new areas which will be addressed by the new administration.

There will also be an integration of all the different European Community directives on security policy.

Commissioner Avramopoulos stated after attending the meeting that Greece is not alone in  facing the migration issue.

“Greece is an important factor for stability; we must be better prepared for the future because we do not know what the future will bring. The major issue of migration and security will have the best possible management,” Avramopoulos declared.

The meeting was the first encounter between the new Greek Premier and a member of the European Commission, only days before the informal EU summit which will be taking place in Helsinki, Finland.

With information from AMNA