NEWS

Greece seeks EU help with migrants

Citizens? Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis on Monday stressed that Greece was unable to handle a relentless influx of undocumented immigrants and appealed to European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom for European support in the tough task of guarding the country?s porous borders.

Following talks in Brussels with Malmstrom, Chrysochoidis said Greek authorities were determined to send a strong message to traffickers, noting that some 150,000 migrants enter Greece per year. ?Whoever is not entitled to international protection, and is simply illegal, will be repatriated according to existing procedures,? he said.

Malmstrom emphasized the need for Greece to guard its borders effectively, to ensure the procedure of examining asylum claims operates normally, to improve detention centers for migrants in Evros, northern Greece, and to create more reception centers.

Malmstrom said the EC was willing to help but noted that the biggest problem was not the availability of funds but the low rate of their absorption.

Chrysochoidis conceded that Greece has only absorbed a fraction of some 250 million euros available until 2013.

Back in Athens, a legislative amendment foreseeing the creation of 30 migrant reception centers over the next two years, and due for approval Monday, was blocked after conservative New Democracy reportedly expressed objections. ND is said to have claimed that the amendment need not be signed as it does not determine the planned location of the facilities. Sources at ND claimed that Chrysochoidis agreed to withdraw the provision, though the office of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said a signature would be necessary.

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