Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis has defended Greece’s border policy, while saying that the country’s treatment of migrants and refugees is in line with its obligations under European and international law.
Speaking at the Delphi Economic Forum on Friday, Mitarakis rejected allegations of illegal pushbacks as “unfounded,” while saying that the recognition rate of refugees in Greece is on par with the European average.
He also challenged accusations that the government impedes refugee access to healthcare, adding that the shortcomings of the national healthcare system are the result of the many years of austerity imposed on successive Greek administrations.
The conservative minister stressed that refugees and migrants crossing the border into Greece from Turkey are not covered by the Geneva Convention, explaining that the treaty only dictates that refugees are allowed to directly move away from an area of conflict. He said that refugees in Turkey are safe from conflict and are not covered by the provision. This, he added, differentiates them from the Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country into neighboring European states.
“Every boat leaving Turkey is a failure of the European Union to protect its borders,” he said, stressing that Greece will not allow illegal entry to the country.
The Delphi Economic Forum is an annual event which gathers leading figures from a variety of sectors, including politics, business, technology, and education. This year’s iteration is being held from April 6 to April 9 and features over 750 speakers.