ATHENS – While denying allegations of pushing back refugees and migrants, Greece’s New Democracy is again pressing the European Union to have a plan focused around “organized asylum,” and trying to stop them from coming.
A two-day conference was held in the Greek capital with the participation of Australia, Lithuania and Poland to discuss how to deal with asylum seekers as the EU’s Dublin Regulation only allows them to seek sanctuary in the first country in which they land.
That’s mostly Greece as refugees and migrants are coming from Turkey, where they went fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, human smugglers not stopped from sending them.
The favored destinations are five Greek islands near Turkey’s coast and while the numbers slowed during the Coronavirus pandemic they are stepping up during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal between Turkey and the EU.
Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis delivering a keynote speech which called for a unified asylum plan and said that human traffickers “try to sell positions in our societies,” reported the Italian news agency ANSAmed.
A nine-point joint declaration included requests for the European Commission to provide more financial help and legal frameworks that balance protecting the borders while offering asylum to those in need, the report said.
Greece has already begun to make preparations to strengthen border protection on land and at sea with government officials fearing a new spike in migration after the deadly earthquakes in Turkey and northern Syria.
Attempts by undocumented migrants to cross into Greece on boats from Turkey have been rising again, Greece’s government reporting a 96 percent increase in 2022 compared to the year before, it said.