Greece and the European Union should not be held hostage to Turkey over migration, Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, as the country is looking for ways to limit refugee and migrant arrivals and decongest camps on the islands of the eastern Aegean.
“The migratory flows over tha past months have increased substantially. It is an issue that needs to be addressed at a European level. Greece and the Europe cannot be blackmailed by Turkey on this issue and the EU needs to demonstrate much more solidarity vis-a-vis Greece in managing this issue, in coming up with a new migration and asylum pack but also coming up with a n emergency plan B in case the current crisis turns into an emergency,” he told journalists ahead of a European Council summit in Brussels.
Commenting on Cyprus, Mitsotakis said Greece supports the decision taken at the general council level regarding targeted measures and sanctions against people and corporations engaged in the illegal drilling within Cyprus' territorial waters.
He also said Greece supports the path of North Macedonia and Albania towards EU membership provided they “fully respect the international deals they have signed, they adhere to the rule of law and of course respect minority rights.”
On Wednesday, the Citizens’ Protection Ministry published for public consultation new legislation aimed at speeding up asylum applications and intensifying the pace of returns and deportations in a bid to reduce the number of migrants and refugees trapped in Greece by lengthy bureaucratic procedures.
Geared mainly towards accelerating deportations, the new system would prevent appeals against negative decisions that are not shown in an official brief to have legal merit, while also scrapping recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a valid basis for an asylum claim, unless it is backed by ample medical evidence.
It would also allow asylum boards’ rulings and decisions to be delivered to a legal representative of the claimant in the event that he or she cannot be located, thus allowing decisions to come into effect faster, while abolishing the right to temporary residence and work permits if a claim is rejected at the first degree.