Athens wary of border changes

Greece is against any major changes to unfettered cross-border travel within the European Union (the so-called Schengen system), according to Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, as the debate picks up about how Europe should respond to the growing number of immigrants coming from North African countries.

?Greece believes that the free movement of people within the Schengen area has to be protected at all costs because it is the most basic tenet of European integration,? said Papoutsis following a meeting with the heads of the police, coast guard and intelligence services on Tuesday.

France and Italy have pressed for changes to the Schengen Agreement, which applies to 25 countries, because of fears that they will be inundated by asylum and immigration applications due to the unrest in countries in North Africa.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has suggested that the controls could be changed when the EU?s external borders come under ?heavy unexpected pressure.?

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