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Politics

Greece Renews Plea for EU Help Keeping Out Refugees, Migrants

Extending a 16-foot high wall on the border with Turkey to eventually cover 180 kilometers (112 miles) and adding extra patrols and electronic technology to spot refugees and migrants isn’t enough to keep them out of Greece, Citizens Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos said.

Talking to European Union ambassadors, he asked for more financial and logistical assistance after the New Democracy government said its push to keep out asylum seekers was guarding the periphery of the bloc.

Greece prevented around 260,000 migrants from entering illegally in 2022 and arrested 1,500 traffickers, an official said, Turkey allowing human traffickers to keep sending them during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU.

Turkey is holding some 4.4 million of them who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, most from Syria and Afghanistan, and hasn’t been sanctioned while Greece is being accused of pushbacks, which it denied.

“The task (of protecting the border) needs the support … of European public opinion, the European Union itself and its constituent members individually,” Theodorikakos said. “It is our steadfast position that member states of first reception cannot be (the migrants’) only European destinations,” reported EuroNews about the reach-out.

“There must be solidarity among member-states and a fair sharing of duties…close coordination is a must,” he also said, Greece long complaining it has taken on most of the burden after the EU closed its borders to asylum seekers.

“Our priority is to protect the human life and dignity endangered by the criminal trafficking networks … even though we are no longer an EU member, we are closely cooperating,” said British Ambassador Matthew Lodge.

“There must be solidarity among member-states and a fair sharing of duties…close coordination is a must,” said Theodorikakos.
He got backing from Cypriot Ambassador Kyriakos Kenevezos, who spoke of the “need for understanding” from countries that don’t have external EU borders, the bloc’s Dublin Regulation allowing refugees and migrants to seek asylum only in the first country in which they land, most often Greece.

The EU’s border protection agency, Frontex, will add another 400 border guards in Greece — 250 of them in February — to the existing 1,800-member force, Theodorikakos also said.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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