Immigration policy will be key priority for Greek EU presidency, Dendias says

The adoption of measures to tackle illegal immigration will be key priority of Greece’s Presidency of the European Union which starts in January 2014, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias has said.

European states have a right to stop people from entering their national territory illegally, Dendias told a parliamentary committee discussing the issue Wednesday.

“This right is key to any understanding of national sovereignty,” he said.

During a meeting in Brussels last month, EU leaders rebuffed calls from southern European governments to deal with a wave of undocumented immigrants from Africa, despite the deaths of hundreds of people in recent boat disasters.

Wary of a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment ahead of next May’s European Parliament elections, EU governments in the north have been reluctant to take tough action.

Dendias on Wednesday hailed Greek progress in curbing the inflow of unregistered migrants in the northeastern border in the Evros region – where authorities have raised a 10.5 km fence rolled with barbed wire along the Turkish border – adding that the number of people illegally crossing into the country has dropped between 5-10 per week.

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