EU envoy hails progress in migration policy

European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom on Tuesday hailed Greece’s improved efforts in dealing with a continuing influx of undocumented immigrants and processing asylum claims but expressed concern over the extended detention of migrants.

“Greece has made important progress on asylum and migration policies but there are still challenges,” Malmstrom said in a Twitter posting during her visit to Athens, adding that “the EU will continue to support” the country.

Malmstrom had talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, who presented to her Greece’s revised system for processing the asylum claims of immigrants and monitoring migration flows. Dendias said the government was aiming at “more effective but also humanitarian action.”

The commissioner highlighted some lingering concerns, however, including the fact that periods of detention at Greek reception facilities can stretch to up to two years and reports of immigrants being “pushed back” to neighboring Turkey by Greek authorities.

In a related development, just a few days after the launch of a European border surveillance system that allows the 18 members states in the Schengen area to coordinate border protection efforts, a new European Commission report found that Greece has improved its efforts in this area.

Greece was put under supervision in 2010 due to shortfalls in its border protection system.

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