PM seeks EU help with immigrants

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday called for the creation of a common European Union policy to tackle illegal immigration, claiming that Greece is shouldering a large part of the burden due to its geographic location at the «gateway» to Western Europe. Meanwhile authorities intercepted a total of 181 would-be migrants in different parts of the country. «Illegal immigration is one the EU’s most serious problems but for our country it is even more pressing,» Karamanlis said during a visit to the Aegean island of Samos where he inspected a new reception center for migrants arriving from neighboring Turkey. Karamanlis reiterated proposals Athens has already made to Brussels, including the creation of a joint European coast guard that would patrol the EU’s external sea borders. «Our history and our culture dictate that we offer a hospitable refuge to desperate people who need care, support and decent living standards until they move on or their asylum applications are processed,» he said. Karamanlis described new units on Samos and Evros, near the Turkish land border, as «model reception centers.» The Samos center replaces a now defunct unit widely criticized for inadequate standards. These two centers, along with a unit for child migrants in Amygdaleza, north of Athens, «highlight the new, modern, humanitarian immigration policy we have been implementing for the past four years,» Karamanlis said. Of the 181 migrants detained, 45 were found in a truck near Turkey’s land border. Another 40 were stopped off the Dodecanese island of Symi. The rest were stopped on other Aegean islands.