Alternate Migration & Asylum Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos on Friday briefed the parliament’s Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs on the actions Greece is pursuing ahead of the EU’s new pact on migration and asylum, expected to be announced by the European Commission this summer.
Some 29 unaccompanied refugee minors departed for Switzerland on Friday, said the minister, while the first flight carrying Iraqi nationals back home – part of voluntary returns of refugees – will take place in July. A similar program will be implemented for Afghanis, he added.
Koumoutsakos said these actions reflect the international scope of Greece’s strategic policy, the aim being to “highlight our needs and priorities abroad and put the point across that Greece is a country of reference in the migration crisis.” He noted that any such discussion cannot be held without Greece’s contribution as the migration crisis is “a top issue in the 21st century.”
Speaking on migration flows from Turkey, the minister acknowledged that Turkey is bearing the brunt of the migration crisis and needs financial support. Greece does not oppose this, he added, “under terms terms and conditions”, but he argued for adapting EU funding to the migration flows in the Aegean: “Support when refugee flows are low or zero, less support or none when they increase”.
Furthermore, the minister highlighted the government’s strategy to sign bilateral agreements for practical support. At least 15 countries had made such agreements with Greece, he noted, both EU and non-EU states. Contributions included 3 mln euros for additional needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic (US), 3 mln euros for refugee hosting facilities (Denmark) , 7.6 mln euros for unaccompanied refugee minors (the Netherlands) and an agreement with France to accept 750 asylum seekers.